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Still Life With Murder (Nell Sweeney, Bk 1)
Still Life With Murder - Nell Sweeney, Bk 1 Author:P. B. Ryan Boston, 1868: The dawn of the Gilded Age, an era of burgeoning commerce and invention, of unimaginable new fortunes and lavish excess -- for some. Born into poverty, young Nell Sweeney scratches by on her wits and little else until fortune blesses her with a position as nursery governess to the fabulously wealthy Hewitts. But she soon learn... more »s that ugly secrets lurk beneath the surface of their gold-plated world.
The Hewitts' eldest son, William, a former Union Army battle surgeon and the black sheep of the family, was reported to have died years before in a notorious Confederate prison. But one snowy February afternoon, his parents learn that he is, in fact, still alive -- and in jail for having murdered a man while on opium. Infuriated by his son's deception and convinced of his guilt, August Hewitt forbids his wife from coming to Will's aid, so she begs Nell to help exonerate him. Nell finds that she must delve into the kind of dark and treacherous underworld she thought she'd left far behind if she is to unearth the truth before the hangman's noose tightens around William Hewitt's throat.« less
First in the Nell Sweeney / Gilded Age Series. Nell Sweeney is an assistant to Dr. Greaves, a man that has saved her from her past, when one evening they are called out to assist in a birth that will change Nell's life. Next thing she knows she is a Governess to this child and within 3 years is a trusted companion to the head of the house and is sent on an adventure to save the woman's son, who was thought to be dead, from a hanging for a murder that he is being charged with. From opium dens to high society this book looks at the life of the Hewitt family and their many secrets. This book is more character driven then actual murder mystery, but the characters are very engaging and Nell is a very independent thinking woman for the late 19th Century in which this book takes place.
What a cracking start to a series! This book is so very well researched -- plenty of period detail, fully-fleshed out characters with plausible, intriguing stories. Very well written. This book was a real page-turner, and I can't wait to read the others in the series. What a pleasure to find an intelligent mystery series!
I am always excited to find a new author to love, such is the case with P.B. Ryan.
The character driven story line with the streetwise Nell Sweeney who has come to the Cape Cod summer cottage of the wealthy Hewitt family with her employer Dr Greaves. A maid servant is giving birth and very likely might die if she doesn't have a risky c-section. With the child safely born and the mother's rejection of the child, Mrs. Hewitt who is still recovering from the loss of her eldest 2 sons at Andersonville the infamous Confederate prison camp, decides to adopt the maids child to assuage her grief. She also see something in Nell and asks Nell to come and care for the child as a nurse/governess.
So Nell leaves Dr. Greaves who has taught her all she knows but realizes that it is time for her to move on. At 25 and poor she has little to look forward to. At least this way she will have security, the opportunity to better herself, and the experience of loving and rearing a child. Grace is her sole focus for 3 years until the past come back to haunt the Hewitt family, and Mrs. Hewitt needs Nell to act in her stead to find out if what they think is true, is indeed true. Four stars.