New Historical Mystery Authors
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"To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor."
Yes, it's witty, but... she's cracking an elegant if rather contrived joke whilst remembering her husband's horrible death? "Twitching" - now there's a dehumanizing verb! This lady obviously married someone she couldn't care less about... Oh no, wait, reading further into the chapter I see she knew her husband as far back as childhood. So he's a childhood friend as well as a husband, and she's still empty of all emotion about his death.
The first chapter reads like the most bloodless of cozies, very "let's concentrate on the butler, the fact the narrator is called "my lady", elegant costumes etc. and ignore the passion a death would normally inspire". I will give the book a go once the library orders it in, but I'm no longer tempted to run to the bookshop and splurge on it.
If I change my mind, I'll say so here ;)
I'm a big fan of hm and am also the author of two historical mysteries set in revolutionary Paris, Game of Patience (2006) and A Treasury of Regrets (just came out in April). I hope you'll read them and recommend them. Hardcover only, but lots of libraries have copies (ask your local library to buy copies if they don't have them).
And I've just signed a contract for two more novels in the series! Yippee!
I LOVED And Only to Deceive -- one of my favourite reads last year and I just read the follow up (The Poisoned Season) which I enjoyed as well.
Many thanks for your kind words, and I'm delighted that you enjoyed A Treasury of Regrets. Hope you enjoyed Game of Patience just as much.
I'm currently working on the next novel--no title yet. OK, I admit it, not much of anything yet! ;-)
Cheers, Susanne Alleyn
This confirms it - I like my mysteries historical, but they MUST BE MYSTERIES. As in, the plots must be intriguing enough to keep me guessing and the perpetrator should ideally be a surprise. The perp here was so obvious I was hoping he was actually a Red Herring!
Yay! Hope you continue to enjoy Game of Patience!
The next novel in the series is progressing . . . slowly . . . but maybe a visit to Paris in February will inspire me . . .
After reading Silent in the Grave's first chapter, and recoiling from the callousness of "still twitching upon the floor" I thought it would be a typical romance-disguised-as-a-mystery, lacking any real emotion. Looking at the description of And Only to Deceive, however, I anticipated a clever whodunit with lots of academic heft.
How wrong was I?
And Only To Deceive turned out to be the shallow romance-disguised-as-a-mystery.
Silent In the Grave turned out to be a proper whodunnit with enticing red herrings and properly fleshed-out characters. It wasn't perfect (there wasn't much urgency in the narrative) but the heroine wasn't annoyingly idealized: unconventional, yes, but this was just about believable given her upbringing! The end was a complete surprise, as it should have been.
So, how wrong was I? Just glad I gave SitG another chance, as it was worth a read.
I didn't mind And Only to Deceive. True, the mystery was not much and as the book went on, the fantasy-as-in-not-very-true-to-life and romantic elements became more apparent. The book seemed difficult to classify (romance, historical fiction, mystery?). But I did like the idea that part of the mystery was coming to know one's own husband.
I'm currently reading A Poisoned Season, but it seems less interesting because it doesn't have that extra-interest. Half-way through it now... but she's just seriously annoyed me by doing a Stupid Thing (on top of not seeming that very motivated to pursue solving the mystery)--something I always find problematic in a protagonist...
Started something much more interesting: The Tomb of Zeus by Barbara Cleverly. About a feisty (but not obnoxiously so) young archaeologist (Laetitia Talbot), in the 1920's, in Crete to supervise her first small team. I love Minoans and most archaeological-themed stories... so even though it takes a while for the mystery to gear up, it's still been an interesting read so far.
Other new authors I've tried lately:
Maureen Ash (features a medieval ex-Templar knight) with the first in series The Alehouse Murders
Sarah D'Almeida with her Musketeers series--which is not based in history, but rather on other historical fiction with Alexandre Dumas's Three Musketeers characters being the characters in these books.
I also did enjoy Ariana Franklin's Mistress of the Art of Death and have the next one here.
Anyone read Jason Goodwin's The Janissary Tree? That is set in 1860's Istanbul and I really enjoyed it!
Has anyone tried Rhys Bowen's Lady Georgiana series beginning with Her Royal Spyness? I have the first two in the series here but haven't gotten to it yet. I've enjoyed her other series so even though it's set a bit later than my usual favorite historical time-period, I have high hopes.
Has anyone else read David Bland's Father Martin and the Hermitage Mystery? Takes place in the early days of Henry II's reign in Britain. The history is excellent, but the writing is dry.
(Susanne Alleyn, author)
Would it be blatant self-promotion on MY part to ask if you or your publisher will have any early review copies to pass around and, if so, can I have one? I'm finding it extremely pleasurable to post reviews of new or soon-to-be-released books on my blog.
And now back to the mysterious headless corpses!
Susanne Alleyn, author
Shark Island (2005)
Run Afoul (2006)
The Gil Cunningham series by Pat McIntosh has been around for a while, but I haven't seen it mentioned much. Top notch mysteries (the reader has to pay close attention) are set in 1490s Glasgow, where Christian piety and Renaissance learning coexist with judicial torture and blood feuds. When Gil investigates, his whole family seems to get involved. And most of them--including the wolfhound--are characters you want to get to know. I wish there were many more of these stories. (Ms. McIntosh, are you reading this?)