Posted in Historical, Loved It, Mystery, Uncategorized

Jane and the Waterloo Map

Author:     Stephanie Barron

Genre:      Mystery, cozy

Rating:    L

Synopsis

November, 1815. The Battle of Waterloo has come and gone, leaving the British economy in shreds; Henry Austen, high-flying banker, is about to declare bankruptcy—dragging several of his brothers down with him. The crisis destroys Henry’s health, and Jane flies to his London bedside, believing him to be dying. While she’s there, the chaplain to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent invites Jane to tour Carlton House, the Prince’s fabulous London home. The chaplain is a fan of Jane’s books, and during the tour he suggests she dedicate her next novel—Emma—to HRH, whom she despises.

However, before she can speak to HRH, Jane stumbles upon a body—sprawled on the carpet in the Regent’s library. The dying man, Colonel MacFarland, was a cavalry hero and a friend of Wellington’s. He utters a single failing phrase: “Waterloo map” . . . and Jane is on the hunt for a treasure of incalculable value and a killer of considerable cunning.

 

Opinion

It’s been far too long since Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas was published.  For those of you who don’t read a lot of Austen, one of her books, Emma was dedicated to the Prince Regent, a man Austen was known to dislike.  The beginning of this book explores how Jane ended up dedicating her book to this royal.  In this book we are introduced to the character James Stanier Clarke, who bears a passing resemblance to Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice (though by this point in the timeline, this book has already been published.) There were some interesting character developments in this book.  For starters, Jane seems to have replaced Lord Harold Trowbridge with her regard for Mr. Raphael West (who was introduced in the last book).  It’s really not surprising.  Both men possessed formidable intellects.  In addition, both men were secret agents.  Also, Jane’s niece Fanny plays a part in the investigation.  It seems as though Jane might actually have a real sidekick.  Although Jane was close to her sister, Cassandra wasn’t the sort to have the adventures with Jane.

The Waterloo Map.  I was really hoping that there was such an item that was lost in the antiquities of time.  Alas, it is not so!!!  But what a thought, that Napoleon might have concealed a treasure in Russia during his retreat.

I’m beginning to get a little bit sad with regards to this series.  About 4 of Jane’s novels have been published.  So that means we are getting nearer to her death, and nearer to the end of this series.

With regards to this book, I decided to read it quite slowly and savor it, particularly as it will be a while before the next book comes out. I did not figure out who dunnit until the very end.  I was pretty shocked actually.

This was a great read.  I loved it!

Posted in Historical, Mystery

The Job

20141217-192218.jpg

Author: Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg

Genre: Mystery

Rating: LI

Synopsis:

He’s a charming con man and she’s a dedicated FBI agent, and they’re about to drive each other crazy . . . again!

The FBI had one demand when they secretly teamed up Special Agent Kate O’Hare with charming con man Nicolas Fox—bring down the world’s most-wanted and untouchable felons. This time it’s the brutal leader of a global drug-smuggling empire. The FBI doesn’t know what their target looks like, where he is, or how to find him, but Nick Fox has a few tricks up his sleeve to roust this particular Knipschildt chocolate–loving drug lord.

From the streets of Nashville to the back alleys of Lisbon, from the rooftops of Istanbul to the middle of the Thames, Nick and Kate chase their mark. When they find themselves pitted against a psychopathic bodyguard and a Portuguese enforcer who gets advice from a pickled head, they decide it’s time to enlist some special talent—talent like a machete-wielding Somali pirate, a self-absorbed actor, an Oscar-winning special effects artist, and Kate’s father Jake, a retired Special Forces operative. Together they could help make this Fox and O’Hare’s biggest win yet . . . if they survive.

Bluestocking’s Opinion: This was another funny one. The relationship between Nick and Kate is becoming tangled, they are both realizing that they are falling for each other. By the end of it, Kate is starting to cross lines. It was just more good fluffy fun.

Posted in Historical, Loved It, Mystery, Teaser Tuesday

Queen of Hearts

Queen of Hearts

Teaser:

“Do You Really want to marry Max and live in Germany?”
“Darling, he’s richer than God and the sex is divine.”

Author: Rhys Bowen

Genre: Mystery

Rating: L

Synopsis:

My mother, the glamorous and much-married actress, is hearing wedding bells once again—which is why she must hop across the pond for a quickie divorce in Reno. To offer my moral support, and since all expenses are paid by her new hubby-to-be, Max, I agree to make the voyage with her.

Crossing the Atlantic, with adventure in the air and wealthy men aboard, Mother all but forgets about Max and matrimony—especially when movie mogul Cy Goldman insists on casting her in his next picture.

Meanwhile, I find myself caught up in the secret investigation of a suspected jewel thief. Lucky for me, the lead investigator happens to be my dashing beau, Darcy!

Mother’s movie and Darcy’s larceny lead everyone to Cy’s Hollywood home, where the likes of Charlie Chaplin are hanging about and there’s enough romantic intrigue to fill a double feature. But we hardly get a chance to work out the sleeping arrangements before Cy turns up dead—as if there wasn’t enough drama already…

Bluestocking’s Opinion: Boy was I glad to see this book come out!!! I love this series. I’m really enjoying the fact that Georgie is starting to spend more time with her mother. For one thing, it means that her mother actually buys her some new clothes for once. It irritated me to no end that Georgie has had to live a life of essentially poverty while her mother ran around in designer clothing spending more money than one could imagine.

I didn’t guess who the murderer was. I was completely surprised. I really thought the author was going with the spurned lover storyline.

Anyway, this was a great fun read!!!

Posted in Detective, Historical, Liked It

The Black Country

The Black Country

Teaser:

The blue dot in the center ringed a smaller black spot and reminded her of something, but it was out of context and it took her a long moment to place it.

And then she did, and it was an eye and the eye was looking at her.

Author: Alex Grecian

Genre: Mystery

Rating: LI

Synopsis:

The British Midlands. Inhabitants call it the “Black Country”—and with good reason. Bad things happen there.

When three members of a prominent family disappear from the Midlands—and a human eyeball is discovered in a bird’s nest—Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad is called in. But Inspector Walter Day and Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith have stepped into something much more bizarre and complicated than expected.

Superstitions abound in the intertwined histories of the villagers, including a local legend about a monster some claim to have seen. In addition, a mysterious epidemic is killing off the inhabitants, and the village itself is sinking into the coal mines below. Day and Hammersmith soon realize that they, too, are in over their heads. And the more they investigate, the more they fear that they may never be allowed to leave.

Bluestocking’s Opinion: Wow!! There were so many elements to this story. I the local monster and epidemic were completely independent events, but it turns out that there was some overlap between the two. I was really surprised by the reason behind the disappearance of the family. Actually it was more like very disturbed. I couldn’t believe what actually happened to the missing boy. Who would imagine that a child would be capable of so much evil!!! In a way, I’m glad that the child was “taken care of” at the end. I can’t even imagine how policemen, particularly in that time, would have dealt with something like this. There didn’t seem to be as many psychotic people back then. Hopefully my opinion, makes you decide to pick this one up!!

Posted in Historical, Liked It, Mystery

Sacrilege

20131021-214033.jpg
Teaser:

“I think I will just go and check on the horse,” I said quickly, pulling my boots back on. Poor Sophia–this was one of the hardest parts about her disguise, and one most likely to betray her I thought–that she could not piss like a man.

Author: S. J. Parris

Genre: Historical Mystery

Rating: LI

Synopsis:

A gripping historical thriller set in sixteenth-century England and centered on the highly secretive cult of Saint Thomas Becket, the twelfth-century archbishop murdered in Canterbury Cathedral.

London, summer of 1584: Radical philosopher, ex-monk, and spy Giordano Bruno suspects he is being followed by an old enemy. He is shocked to discover that his pursuer is in fact Sophia Underhill, a young woman with whom he was once in love. When Bruno learns that Sophia has been accused of murdering her husband, a prominent magistrate in Canterbury, he agrees to do anything he can to help clear her name.

In the city that was once England’s greatest center of pilgrimage, Bruno begins to uncover unsuspected secrets that point to the dead man being part of a larger and more dangerous plot in the making. He must turn his detective’s eye on history—on Saint Thomas Becket, the twelfth-century archbishop murdered in Canterbury Cathedral, and on the legend surrounding the disappearance of his body—in order to solve the crime.

As Bruno’s feelings for Sophia grow more intense, so does his fear that another murder is about to take place—perhaps his own. But more than Bruno’s life is at stake in this vividly rendered, impeccably researched, and addictively page-turning whodunit—the stability of the kingdom hangs in the balance as Bruno hunts down a brutal murderer in the shadows of England’s most ancient cathedral.

Bluestocking’s Learned Opinion: When will men learn that the most dangerous women are beautiful? I don’t get it! I digress. This is third book in this series. I have had this book for a while, but I forgot about it. I was cleaning up the library and found it on my shelf.

The murders in this book were positively diabolical! I’ve always been aware of the fact that people would manipulate religion in order to get power, but these men took it farther than I thought possible. I mean trying to conjure miracles? Kind of crazy. I didn’t see the motive right away for the various murders and disappearances. Actually I wouldn’t have figured it out unless Bruno revealed it. Then there was the murder of Sophia’s husband. I totally overlooked a pretty obvious suspect. You know if it weren’t for that darned glove; the murderous plot would have been perfect. Once more of the victim’s background came out, it seemed more justice than anything that he was killed.

Oh Bruno! Men always go after the once thing they can’t have and shouldn’t want. I’m not sure I’ll ever figure that one out. Eventually there needs to be. Show down between he and Sophia.

This one was a slow read; not tht this is a bad thing. You just have to read it carefully.

Posted in Historical

Code 632

This was way better than the Da Vinci Code!!!!! So a Codex is an old manuscript. I think specifically from the Middle Ages. 

Thomas Noronha is a professor of history and an expert crypotographer teaching at a university in Lisbon Portugal. He is hired to finish the research/investigation of a scholar (Toscano) found dead in Brazil under usual circumstances. It has to due with the scholar’s research on Christopher Columbus. 

MOLOC NINUNDIA OMASTOOS

It’s the code on Toscano’s papers that drives Noronha’s investigation. His investigation takes him from Lisbon to New York to Brazil back to Lisbon. He revisits history, the more contradictory parts, to determine who was man who supposedly discovered American, because it doesn’t seem Christopher Columbus was the man we thought. 

This book was awesome!! I liked it so much better than The Da Vinci Code. There were three main things I liked about it:

Main Character
The protagonist is very ordinary. He’s a professor who when the story begins is teaching hieroglyphics. He does have a flaw. He’s married and has a daughter with Down’s syndrome. His marriage has been falling apart since the little girl was diagnosed. His motivation for taking the job is that he and his wife struggle to pay their daughter’s medical bills. The American foundation that has hired him will pay him $5,000 a week and $500,000 when the investigation is complete. Noronha taking on this job is definitely a slippery slope. And he does pretty far down- adultery, family neglect, deception. On one hand I liked the character, but on the other hand I was a little bit frustrated with how naive the man was. I mean first off, the man whose research he was completing dies mysteriously. (I’d wonder what I was getting myself into). Then he has at least two people ask him did he had dealings with the American Foundation. I mean was he ever going to ask or check up on those folks? I mean seriously you’ve always got to be careful of people throwing big bucks at you. And seriously anytime a woman you are seeing on the side, up an vanishes after you dump her. Hello!!!! But before you get to that part, seriously have men never hear the expression “dangerous beauty?” I mean I’m sure the professor was a decent looking sort of chap but really, outstandingly gorgeous women don’t generally go for academics. That should have been his first clue something was up. I love it when you feel like you could just shake a character to death because they are being kind of dumb. I think what I liked about it most was that the character truly saw how futile all he did was. I mean he did it all for money, and in the end his money did him no good. He spent his time “being” so hurt about his daughter’s condition that he just let it destroy the relationships that matter. Unfortunately by the time he realized the value and importance of his daughter’s life, it really was too late. 

Plot
The plot advanced through historical research. What I liked is how the author took the reader through what historians typically do the verify ancient writing. You had to identify the writer, audience, motivations, bias, and prejudice. In many ways it was like the investigation I do when I work a case. I think I would have enjoyed excerpts of the actual books in the text; but I suppose that would have been impossible for the author to pull off. I mean it seems that the author did a lot of research, it would have been impractical for him to add all of that. I suppose I’ll just have to visit Portugal some day. I liked the history of the Kabbalah. I was nice to have something substantive to think about it rather than merely knowing Madonna and Britney Spears are into it. It was a lot easier to follow the unfolding of the mystery than it was in the Da Vinci Code. I mean the angrams, riddles, and such were annoying. I mean heck there was no way to figure stuff out with the characters as the story progress. But in this book as Thomas was taking me through the history the clouds were breaking for me. 

Research
I’m thinking of giving out a man of the year award. Jose you’re going to be the first to receive it!! The language of flowers!!!!!! Excellent. I don’t think I’ve ever met a man (figuratively as I have never actually met the man) who knew that back in the day men and women used to communicate using flowers. When Thomas finds those flowers—- that’s got to be the best break up scene in all of history!! It was classy and dignified and so intellectual! I’m stealing this idea for when I have to break up with someone. Why yell an scream when you can just leave foxglove and yellow roses. In general I was impressed by the level of scholarship that went into this book. You readers know I can be somewhat anal when it comes to historical facts. I checked some stuff online. A great deal about Columbus really isn’t known. In an interview, the author said he wanted to get information that was not widely known out in the public. And this story certainly did that. So maybe we’ll see a history channel special about who Christopher Columbus really was.

Posted in Historical, Loved It, Mystery

A Flaw in the Blood

So Valentine’s Day wasn’t so bad this year after all.  I got back from the gym that night to discover a package from Random House waiting for me.  To say I was excited is that biggest understatement of the year.  I actually put off reading it till Friday night.  You know me I wouldn’t have gone to bed Thursday night, and I had court the next morning.  So now the review….
Most of you know Stephanie Barron as the author of the Jane Austen Mysteries.  However, she has departed from tradition and written a stand alone suspense novel about Queen Victoria.  I know all the history buffs are probably connecting the dots between the title and the character.  The book is an exploration into the 
Here is a picture of the package minus identifying info. 
speculation and innuendo historians have had about Queen Victoria for some time.
The book opens in 1861 at Windsor castle.  Patrick Fitzgerald, the barrister who defended Mr. Oxford (the man responsible for the first assassination attempt on Victoria), has been summoned to the castle accompanied by his ward, Dr. Georgina Armistead.  The Queen, half mad with anguish due to Prince Albert’s typhoid, wants Fitzgerald to sign a paper stating that the investigation he as part of his defense of Oxford was a fabrication of is “Irish” mind.  Fitzgerald refuses.  Prince Albert dies a few minutes after Fitzgerald quits the castle.  Several hours later, Fitzgerald and Armistead are violently attacked in the Queen’s coach.  Fitzgerald wonders was this a failed assassination attempt on the Queen…

I need to find the rest of this review.