Gillian Linscott - Nell Bray Mysteries

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Gillian Linscott - Nell Bray Mysteries

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Ago 4, 2006, 12:01 pm

I've only read one of these so far, Dance on Blood but I thoroughly enjoyed it: the character Nell Bray is a suffragette in Edwardian/post WWI Britain, and from what I've read Linscott gets the period spot-on. Worth your time!

Ago 5, 2006, 7:31 pm

That does look intriguing. Thanks for the rec! I've been on the lookout for decent WWI mysteries, but there seem to be surprisingly few. Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear has two halfway decent books, but the third looks like it's dipping into supernatural phenomena--is it too much to ask to have a plain old detective story without bringing ghosties and ghoulies into the mix?

I tried the Daisy Dalyrmple series by Carola Dunn, but they're pretty flat fare after the rich prose of Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series (one of the good post-WWI mysteries series, by the way) and I gave up after two books.

Ago 6, 2006, 5:26 am

I read Maisie Dobbs and gave it a bit of a dismissive review on LT, pasting it as wish-fulfilment and anachronistic - then I promptly broke my vow not to read others in the series by borrowing the sequel, Birds of a Feather, when it appeared in the local library :) However, BoaF was more than a little predictable - most of us know all about "white feathers", so it's not hard to figure out the victims' connection to "white feathers" and hence why they had to die.

If the third one wanders into the realm of ghosties and ghoulies, I won't be surprised - Winspear's already shown a tendency to mystical hoodoo with Maisie's ability to "intuit" things. What's next, aura-readings? ;)

Ago 6, 2006, 10:29 am

I do have the Linscott book on Mt TBR, thanks for the rec! I've read Maisie Dobbs and liked it well enough to purchase Birds of a Feather which is hiding somewhere around here.

Hated the Daisy Dalrymple book I read -- didn't even make it to the second in the series. Glad to know I wasn't the only one who found it lacking.

Ago 6, 2006, 12:28 pm

most of us know all about "white feathers"

Not me. I'm a history buff, but before I read that, I had concentrated mostly on Victorian and American Civil War history, so the white feather thing was something I hadn't seen before.

There's a book called After the Armistice Ball that I haven't read yet, for fear of it being another Daisy Dalrymple disaster and I know I read the first book in a post WWI series featuring the typical "feisty" feminist reporter and a viscount detecive. Can't recall the author or the title at the moment. I think it was hailed as a welcome successor to Lord Peter Wimsey, but I would have to heartily disagree with that. Nothing like Dorothy L. Sayers at all and the characters weren't nearly as interesting.

Ago 6, 2006, 5:49 pm

Ah, OK, "white feathers" are fairly common knowledge in the UK because of the story The Four Feathers, where a man gets given four white feathers for "cowardice" and decides to perform Incredible Acts Of Heroism (TM) in order to prove the givers wrong. Given that the 2002 film of TFF has been pretty much panned, I will understand if you haven't seen it ;)

Ago 7, 2006, 8:31 pm

Actually, I have seen that movie (the one w/ Heath Ledger right?), but it wasn't until after I had read "Birds of a Feather". :-) Good movie, though.

Ago 8, 2006, 11:47 am

Oh, it's worth seeing? OK, I'll make an effort then - my knowledge of it is from the vintage version with Ralph Richardson!

Ago 30, 2006, 6:47 pm

I just devoured The Perfect Daughter today. I can't believe I haven't heard more about Gillian Linscott; perhaps because her books are published primarily in the UK? My library only has 3 of her books, and even the larger library in the city where I work only has a few more, and not the first one. I generally don't like to read series out of order, but I have to make an exception with her it appears.

Ago 31, 2006, 4:00 am

I know what you mean, she's one of these authors that really should be better known. (Perhaps the difference is that her publisher has never made an effort to market her the way Maisie Dobbs got marketed? For Maisie Dobbs I remember adverts in the literary sections of newspapers, intriguing-looking silhouettes of a woman walking in a London fog. Gillian Linscott I heard about solely through word of mouth.))

BTW, I ordered After The Armistice Ball because it sounded intriguing - it's at the library waiting for me, so I'll have a read and tell you how I got on!

Editado: Out 11, 2006, 5:44 pm

And it took me this long to review After the Armistice Ball - not because it was bad (it certainly wasn't) but because I've been busy. Sorry! ;)

What I loved about it - and what will lead me to read more Dandy Gilver mysteries whenever they appear - is the convincingly "period" and often witty narratorial voice. Dandy, I like, and the 1920s Scottish setting is a breath of fresh air after the well-trodden ground of London parties. However, I wasn't too keen on the story itself - after establishing Dandy as a believable, well-balanced personality it's a bit jarring to put her up against a psychopath. (I will say no more - that in itself is not a spoiler, I will give away no details of whodunit and why.) The attention to detail was good and the "clues" well-planted, it was a mystery that definitely played fair with the reader... but the villain seemed to wander in from another, inferior, book. You'll see what I mean when you read it.

Still going to check out the next one though. And, to bring the topic back to Jacqueline Winspear again, I saw her latest, Messenger of Truth, in my local library and thought I'd read the first few pages. And, true to form, in the first few pages we have a potential client visiting Maisie's office and looking up to the window where Maisie stands. Maisie turns and looks down at the street, and instantly Client is suffused with a reassuring, caring, supporting warmth from Maisie's look alone. Yes, from just detecting "auras" Maisie has moved on to charismatic consolation from a distance!

Why can't she just jack in the "mysteries" stuff and open up a holistic healing centre? Someone who can just look at grieving people and make them feel better instantly could earn lots of moolah from that talent...

Out 11, 2006, 7:05 pm

I tried After the Armistice Ball but couldn't get into it. Maybe I should give it another go.

There is a new Dandy mystery just published, by the way. I saw it on the "new" shelf at the library.

Still can't remember the name of the author of the series I mentioned above.

Out 12, 2006, 7:59 am

I figure that if you don't much like the narrator herself, it's a series you won't get into - I did like her, though. And ta for the heads-up, I see her latest is called The Burry Man's Day and is about the frankly bizarre custom, in South Queensferry, of having a man dress up in a costume of "burrs" and dance through the streets. One day, I plan to see this grotesquery in action :)

Out 16, 2006, 2:26 pm

Just wanted to say I started Dance on Blood last night -- in lieu of watching what I thought was going to be a dismal performance by the NY Mets -- and am really enjoying it so far. Had to force myself to put it down and go to bed. Wish I could have stayed home "sick" today to read it more. Wouldn't you know, I forgot to stick it in my bag for lunchtime reading. :(

Out 28, 2006, 8:43 pm

Finished Dance on Blood earlier today (lousy weather, perfect day to curl up with a good book) and loved it. I really think it's one of the best historical mysteries I've read in ages. I'm off searching for the rest of the Nell Bray books - I want more!

If anyone is wanting to mooch this book -- I've put it up on BookMooch for grabs.

Out 30, 2006, 7:59 pm

What's BookMooch?

I'm currently in the midst of the first, I think, Nell Bray mystery Sister Beneath the Sheet. It's good, though not quite as tight as her later ones and I think she was playing around with some of her reoccuring characters here, feeling them out so to speak because at least the one I'm thinking of doesn't resemble her later appearences very much.

Editado: Out 31, 2006, 2:59 pm -- it's a online booktrading site. I know a few other LTers are moochers as well (a few who post in group).

I just got another Nell Bray book, Widow's Peak in the mail yesterday. Looking forward to reading it sooner or later. But right now I've promised myself that I'm going to get through the remainder of the Lemony Snicket books before I do anything else!

Mar 17, 2007, 4:26 am

Just read Linscott's Absent Friends and it's one I'd thoroughly recommend - in it, Nell is taking advantage of the recently-granted women's suffrage to stand as a political candidate (Independent). But the only reason she got funding for her campaign is that her sponsor wants her to investigate the tragic - and obviously un-accidental - death of the sponsor's husband. There's some VERY clever stuff here, especially the "messages via piano" strand of the plot.

Also read The Burry Man's Day, the next in Catriona McPherson's Dandy Gilver series - it was weird to read it right after Absent Friends, as both of them featured the same element of post-WWI life. I will not give any more than that away. As for Burry Man, Dandy gets wittier and wittier but the way in which the appropriately complicated mystery got solved was all a bit serendipitous for me. The "twist" involving the Burry Man himself was also easy to see coming - one look at his costume gives the game away! But overall it's a series I'll be sticking with.