It’s been a long time since I last read a Crispin Guest novel—I think it was the fourth, Troubled Bones. When The Deepest Grave (the eleventh in the series) came up on NetGalley, it was like seeing a long lost friend. I re-read the first, Veil of Lies, to get reacquainted. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to slip back into the world of Crispin Guest—you can start the series out of order and not be lost. 

Crispin and apprentice Jack Tucker are drawn into investigating the walking dead in the St Modwen’s churchyard. To complicate Crispin’s already complicated life, someone from his first-ever case needs his help again. Fatherhood appears to be the theme, as young Jack is about to become a father and Crispin is…well, no spoilers here, but there is a very intriguing development for Crispin.

 Crispin is as full of angst and regret as the first book but it’s his curiosity and cynicism that fuel him to solve the mysteries. The medieval setting is well balanced against the mystery plot, and the solution to the puzzle is very satisfying. 😀


Thank you NetGalley and Severn House Publishers

Jeri Westerson’s blog: CrispinGuest






This is a brilliantly written historical extrapolation of the rather mysterious and yet notorious Prince Albert Victor, grandson of Queen Victoria, second in line to the throne. Clark dives deeply into the episodes that appear to define the prince’s life—the poor student, the dullard, the naval cadet, the good brother, the voluptuary. The prince was also named in the Cleveland Street Scandal, a male brothel, and suspected of being Jack the Ripper (“The Final Solution” by Stephen Knight and movie by the same name). 

the final solution

At the heart of the novel is his relationship with his tutor and lifelong friend James Kenneth Stephen. Their relationship shapes and helps to define both young men, “Jem” and “Eddy.”  Clark deftly pulls  together the disparate elements that are only a glimmer of who the real Albert Victor might have been, giving his story emotional depth and deeper context.

I found the novel emotionally satisfying, and it gave me a better picture of an era I don’t know much about. Beautiful cover, gorgeous writing. 

“The young man’s suit is a poem to tailoring; his proud valet can recite every pocket, pleat and tuck of it…”


Thank you NetGalley and Fairlight Books!


Review: #TheButterflyConspiracy #NetGalley



Review: In my opinion, one of the best Victorian historical mysteries I’ve read recently with likable, relatable characters in the setting of London’s scientific community. Typical for the genre, there are eccentric and devoted friends and an aloof, intriguing, doubting love interest. The superior writing raises the story out of the common morass. The only thing, I think, Merula Merriweather and Victoria Speedwell have in common is their shared love of science, complicated by the fact that ladies did not involve themselves in such pursuits. Merula is calm and level headed and as much as I love Victoria S, she makes me roll my eyes at times. This is both a satisfying mystery and a satisfying historical—highly recommended.


Thank you NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for the ARC, sorry so late!


#FirstNight #NetGalley


first night


The year is 1802, and Cristabel and Max are headlining a youth performance of Orpheus and Eurydice in Lissenberg’s new opera house. Christabel convinces Max to switch parts to let her sing the male lead only to reveal herself to thunderous applause, and her father’s burning shame, at the opera’s close. Disgraced, Christabel is sent back to England.

Upon hearing of the scandal, American heiress Martha Peabody seeks Cristabel out with an unorthodox proposition: Martha has money and independence but no talent, Christabel has raw talent but no means to support herself. With Martha acting as Cristabel’s manager, the two women could travel autonomously: Cristabel able to pursue her passion for opera and Martha escaping the confines of an unwanted marriage. Taking a leap of faith, Cristabel agrees. When a fortuitous meeting with a young composer leads to a professional opportunity for Cristabel, she soon finds herself back in Lissenberg, keen to discover what has become of Max.

But tensions in Lissenberg are rising: Napolean Bonaparte’s supporters are growing in number and Max’s father, the mad Prince Gustav, is tightening his iron grip on his kingdom. Max’s distant behaviour confuses Cristabel, but the show must go on, and she throws herself into her opera training. Meanwhile, Martha finds herself drawn into a political intrigue destined only for trouble.

As opening night approaches it becomes increasingly clear that the diverging paths of the two women are bound to collide, with momentous consequences.

Thank you Net Galley and Ipso Books 🙂


I wish I loved opera. I mean, there are some songs from different operas that I like, but I find it hard to listen to a whole story being sung through in another language. Like musicals, there’s a weird logic thing I can’t make work. Sure, there are some musicals I adore—Hair, All That Jazz, JCS, Godspell, WSS (four out of five of those are from my childhood) but, yeah–no. I guess I feel guilty because opera was huge in my mother’s family and beloved friends love opera and talk about it…a lot, but opera’s like a Rothko painting—you either get it or you don’t.  

That being said…I loved First Night. I expected something even more over the top than usual with settings like Venice and the fictional Lissenberg, and the author did not disappoint me.  Even as the mystery and suspense overtakes the plot a love of opera thrums through the novel and striving for excellence drives the characters forward. The plot has unexpected twists and turns that kept me reading. The novel was published in 1989, and I think it holds up well.


Island of the Mad by Laurie R. King



I am a very big fan of Laurie R King and especially of the Mary Russell series. For some reason, Venice has figured into much of my reading lately, and I had to laugh (because I didn’t read the Net Galley blurb, just requested the book) when the plot brought Mary and Holmes there. Venice is brilliantly rendered under the author’s pen—I dreamed of gray-green lagoons all night long last night—as is Cole Porter and his wife, the gandolieri, the Bright Young Things, the Blackshirts, and Bedlam, to name a few reasons to love this book. The plot moves along quickly and logically with a wonderful smash-bang superhero scene before the big reveal.

Thank you Net Galley and Bantam 🙂

Release Date: June 12, 2018

Bantam Books


Jack Was Here by Christopher Bardsley

watercolour-1833061_1920Jack was herre


This is a brilliant crime novel, and Christopher Bardsley is an author to watch for in the future.

Hugh Fitzgerald is an almost-broken man—served in the Australian army in Afghanistan, wounded and deployed home, his pension is generous enough to allow him to try and drink his way through his PTSD. He’s angry, he has terrible nightmares, and his wife has left him. He’s tough and gritty, though, and always was. When his brother seeks him out to help an old friend find their lost son in Bangkok, all expenses paid plus, Hugh takes on the job, though he’s kind of a wreck, and he knows it. His blatant honesty about himself is the charm here, no subtly, and he has a dark wit. The writing is superb and the plot tight though marred with a few too many typos (I’m looking at you, Thistle). I frankly couldn’t put this down. Hugh’s inner demons soon come crawling out in the excesses of Bangkok, and we learn more about his time in the service and his inner wounds as he hunts for young Jack Kerr. The secondary characters are well drawn, and Hugh’s insights and instinct for evil serve him well. The setting, from Bangkok to the border between Thailand and Cambodia, is so well written I could feel the awful humidity, almost smell the urban and human decay. I am very much looking forward to more from this author.