Saturday, December 30, 2017

Review Roundup : Bloodstains with Bronte, A Devious Death, and H.H. Holmes

I received ARCs of these books from the publishers in exchange for honest reviews. These did not affect my opinions of the books or my reviews themselves.

When the large home Emily has inherited is being renovated, she turns to Wuthering Heights to distract her from the noise and mess. Drawn into the story, Emily can't help but see a doomed love triangle playing out before her eyes involving her beloved housekeeper, Katie. When a murder mystery party brings matters to a head, Emily will do whatever it takes to protect Katie, including solving the mystery herself.

I liked this cozy mystery, but did not love it. The murder mystery party was a clever device, and I enjoyed the weaving in of a classic novel such as Wuthering Heights. But the plot device of every man who came into contact with Katie becoming obsessed with her wore thin very quickly, as did the choice to insert Katie's diary entries in first person into the chapters. The religious aspects of the story also seemed to come out of nowhere and were not integrated in well enough to justify their prominent position in the tale.

This was an okay read, but I don't think I will be rushing to pick up any more of the series.

In this cozy mystery, Lady Phoebe and her lady's maid, Eva, work to solve a murder that directly impacts Phoebe and her family. Inheritance disputes have brought Phoebe's warring relations to descend on the home Phoebe and her sister are visiting, and the arguments soon lead to murder.

Lady Phoebe and Eva are compelling and strong characters, and their relationship is a delight, as are the romances they find themselves in. The supporting cast are unique and interesting, and as a reader I found myself genuinely caring about the solution to the crime and who it would impact.

I'm not a huge fan of the book cover (I think it makes the book look more amateurish than it is), and the story did start out a little slow for my tastes, but this was a fun cozy in a series I could see myself revisiting.

This book was absolutely fascinating, and impeccably researched. I have read a lot of books on H.H. Holmes, and thought I knew all there was to know, but I was wrong--and I was glad to be proved wrong by Selzer's excellent tome.

What was particularly fascinating and impressive was how deftly Selzer disputed the myths and legends about Holmes that almost everyone (including myself) had taken for fact. Selzer has more than done his research, and this book provides a masterful overview of every aspect of the Holmes' tale. I highly recommend this book for true crime readers, and those who want to know the truth behind the tales.

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