Lord Crick has died. While convulsing. And turning yellow. And providing his family with a gruesome corpse. Although young Lord Crick had some health issues (i.e. the pox) and a rather nasty disposition, it really was a ghastly and horrific death. His sister Lady Lydia decides that there must be a further investigation. The gossip against her husband Captain Flynn, who is her brother’s heir, is becoming scandalous. On the advice of her cousin Francis, she travels to London to meet with Dr. Thomas Silkstone, an American physician who is working, studying and teaching with British anatomist Dr. Carruthers. Silkstone, who is quite taken with Lady Lydia, agrees reluctantly to exhume and examine the corpse and answer questions at the inquest.

When he is at the estate, he finds not just a house in mourning, but a household full of secrets. Silkstone uses his primitive forensic and toxicology skills to study the remains, but he finds more questions than answers, and his list of suspects in the household grows.  The tension swells, and the plot twists,  but will Silkstone (with some help from Carruthers,) find the answers with his scientific methods before there is another body found on the estate? Harris writes a layered tale of forensic mystery using engaging characters who struggle with the conventions of their time. Silkstone is wonderful as the outsider looking into their society. Can’t wait to read the next one in the series!

The Anatomist’s Apprentice by Tessa Harris 

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This is my second Tasha Alexander novel featuring Victorian Lady Emily Ashton and maybe because this one is set in Venice, a city I love, I enjoyed it even more than the the first one I read (A Fatal Waltz).  Alexander, like Donna Leon, another author who writes mysteries set in Venice (though featuring a male detective), does a brilliant job of breathing life into Venice.  And Lady Emily is a force to be reckoned with…a kin to Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia Grey (set in Victorian England).  Unlike Raybourn’s heroine, who sometimes is too tough and “un-Victorian” for the times, I felt Alexander and her Lady Emily hit just the right tones of passion and passiveness.  Though the ending got a little convoluted (I began to get some of the characters confused because of their titles and their flowery names…not to mention all of the place names), I still highly recommend this series for anyone who likes historical mysteries, female-based mysteries or vivid depictions and/or senses of place.  

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Akin to Deanna Raybourn and her Lady Julia Grey series and Anne Perry’s William Monk series, Charles Finch puts together a smart, fresh historical mystery series with a debonair gentleman detective Charles Lenox.  In this book, the fourth in the series, Lenox begins working as a Member of Parliament in 1860s London, but called upon to do some investigating when the servant of a fellow MP turns up murdered.  Sadly, his new wife, Lady Jane Grey, is not too pleased his sleuthing…she would rather he be home with her, so that leads to some tension.  Mostly, Lenox is an easy-going and dapper fellow who appeals to all.  I think most mystery readers, especially those who like historical or British mysteries (or both) will like Finch! 
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A light, fun mystery set in the South of England near Brighton. I am tempted to call this one a COZY mystery (meaning violence are downplayed or treated humorously with a light, refreshing take) but sometimes, that scares people off so I will not call it that. But, it really is a cozy. But, please do not be scared off. This is a fun, highly entertaining mystery that you will miss if you avoid anything “cozy.” The two main characters, Carole and Jude, are spunky middle-aged ladies who relish a good chance to sink their teeth into a good crime story. Carole and Jude are Brett’s continuing characters in his Fethering series…this book is the tenth in the series. Here, Carole and Jude set about trying to prove the innocence of a friend, the owner of a local pub where a murder is committed. The pub, before the murder, had been targeted with some other unsavory offenses (a poisoning (explains the title of the book) and an influx of biker-type clientele that was scaring away the other regular customers. So, Carole and Jude set about proving that the pub had been targeted specifically for some reason and the murder is a result of that harassment. Brett, most famously known for his famed Mrs. Pargeter mystery series, seems to enjoy writing Carole and Jude. The two amateur sleuths are enormously fun to read and Brett’s easy-going writing style makes this a top-notch mystery, filled with humor and dry wit. Do yourself a favor and ignore the “cozyness” of it and read it just for fun. You will not regret it!

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