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The Inheritance

The Inheritance by Charles Finch.

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books (November 1, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1250070422

Charles Lenox has received a cryptic plea for help from an old Harrow schoolmate, Gerald Leigh, but when he looks into the matter he finds that his friend has suddenly disappeared. As boys they had shared a secret: a bequest from a mysterious benefactor had smoothed Leigh’s way into the world after the death of his father. Lenox, already with a passionate interest in detective work, made discovering the benefactor’s identity his first case – but was never able to solve it.

Now, years later, Leigh has been the recipient of a second, even more generous bequest. Is it from the same anonymous sponsor? Or is the money poisoned by ulterior motives? Leigh’s disappearance suggests the latter, and as Lenox tries, desperately, to save his friend’s life, he’s forced into confrontations with both the most dangerous of east end gangs and the far more genteel denizens of the illustrious Royal Society. When someone close to the bequest dies, Lenox must finally delve deep into the past to uncover at last the identity of the person who is either his friend’s savior – or his lethal enemy.

This was an enjoyable read. Obviously a much faster read than my last book.

Charles Finch has written a number of books using the same main character of Charles Lenox, but this was my first read of his detective.  There were some really good twists and turns and as much as the case seems solved with still chapters to read.. it comes up with enough to be sure they cover every little thing along the way.

Gerald Leigh, the school mate he is helping stays in the background yet when he pops up he is most memorable.

A good quick read  and easy enough to follow that you never forget where you are in the case.

Guilty Thing

Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De  Quincey by Frances Wilson.

Book 6 for 2017

Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (October 4, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0374167303

 

Publishers Weekly Ten Best Nonfiction Books of 2016

Thomas De Quincey was an obsessive. He was obsessed with Wordsworth and Coleridge, whose Lyrical Balladsprovided the script to his life, and by the idea of sudden death. Running away from school to pursue the two poets, De Quincey insinuated himself into their world. Basing his sensibility on Wordsworth’s and his character on Coleridge’s, he forged a triangle of unusual psychological complexity.

Aged twenty-four, De Quincey replaced Wordsworth as the tenant of Dove Cottage, the poet’s former residence in Grasmere. In this idyllic spot he followed the reports of the notorious Ratcliffe Highway murders of 1811, when two families, including a baby, were butchered in their own homes. In his opium-soaked imagination the murderer became a poet while the poet became a murderer. Embedded in On Murder as One of the Fine Arts, De Quincey’s brilliant series of essays, Frances Wilson finds the startling story of his relationships with Wordsworth and Coleridge.

Opium was the making of De Quincey, allowing him to dissolve self-conflict, eliminate self-recrimination, and divest himself of guilt. Opium also allowed him to write, and under the pseudonym “The Opium-Eater” De Quincey emerged as the strangest and most original journalist of his age. His influence has been considerable. Poe became his double; Dostoevsky went into exile with Confessions of an English Opium-Eater in his pocket; and Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, George Orwell, Alfred Hitchcock, and Vladimir Nabokov were all De Quincey devotees.

There have been other biographies of Thomas De Quincey, but Guilty Thing is the first to be animated by the spirit of De Quincey himself. Following the growth of his obsessions from seed to full flowering and tracing the ways they intertwined, Frances Wilson finds the master key to De Quincey’s vast Piranesian mind. Unraveling a tale of hero worship and revenge, Guilty Thing brings the last of the Romantics roaring back to life and firmly establishes Wilson as one of our foremost contemporary biographers.

 

So…

After reading David Morrell’s trilogy, which included a character named Thomas De Quincey. And after my girlfriend in England, Cath, told me he was a real person, I wanted to know about him.    Several months ago I downloaded his Autobiography of Confessions of an Opium Eater, but when I read it, it was only 48 pages, so I thought it wasn’t the whole book. I have since found out the "book version" isn’t very long either.  I therefore put it on the back burner, so to speak, and forgot about it until recently when I read the third book of Morrell’s trilogy, Ruler of the Night.  My interest got sparked again.  So I sent for this book, Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey.

I did find out what parts I read of him in Morrell’s novels were true and what was not.

I found out De Quincey added the "De" to his name, it was only Quincey.

He was but 4 foot 11 inches tall.  He had 7 siblings, he loved poetry and taught him self how to speak and write fluent Greek.

De Quincey, was known as the Opium Eater, because he chose to present himself as he really was.  He began on Laudanum drops for a headache and it escalated  and by 1813 he was taking 8,000 drops a day.

His other addictions included books and indebtedness.  Living much of his time on the streets. 

Eventually, he married his servant and had 8 children . 

The book was not easy for me to read.  I am not literate in many long words and the author chose to write in the manor or the literate people such as De Quincey to write the book.  I did persist and did read the entire book, and it was interesting.  It also spoke of the era in which he lived and other authors known in literature of that time.

Not a book for everyone, but surely a book for someone who wanted to know about Thomas De Quincey: the Opium Eater. 

Lost Among the Living

Lost Among the Living by Simone St. James.

(Book 5)

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: NAL; 1st edition (April 5, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0451476190

Amazon Review:

England, 1921. Three years after her husband, Alex, disappeared, shot down over Germany, Jo Manders still mourns his loss. Working as a paid companion to Alex’s wealthy, condescending aunt, Dottie Forsyth, Jo travels to the family’s estate in the Sussex countryside. But there is much she never knew about her husband’s origins…and the revelation of a mysterious death in the Forsyths’ past is just the beginning…
All is not well at Wych Elm House. Dottie’s husband is distant, and her son was grievously injured in the war. Footsteps follow Jo down empty halls, and items in her bedroom are eerily rearranged. The locals say the family is cursed, and that a ghost in the woods has never rested. And when Jo discovers her husband’s darkest secrets, she wonders if she ever really knew him.  Isolated in a place of deception and grief, she must find the truth or lose herself forever.
And then a familiar stranger arrives at Wych Elm House…

I enjoyed this book.  It’s a book with family history and secrets.. so, what’s not to like? It was fast reading and interesting.  And yes… part of the secrets was a "possible" murder!

It had ghosts… but not overly  used.

It takes place in a old large home with (or without) servants, and it took some unexpected twists and turns.  It also held true to the England of 1921. 

This was a nice break from having detectives solve something. 

I’ve read one other book by Simone St. James called The Haunting of Maddy Clare, which I enjoyed also.

Ruler of the Night

Ruler of the Night by David Morrell.

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Mulholland Books (November 15, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0316307904

 

The notorious Opium-Eater returns in the sensational climax to David Morrell’s acclaimed Victorian mystery trilogy.
1855. The railway has irrevocably altered English society, effectively changing geography and fueling the industrial revolution by shortening distances between cities: a whole day’s journey can now be covered in a matter of hours. People marvel at their new freedom.
But train travel brings new dangers as well, with England’s first death by train recorded on the very first day of railway operations in 1830. Twenty-five years later, England’s first train murder occurs, paralyzing London with the unthinkable when a gentleman is stabbed to death in a safely locked first-class passenger compartment.
In the next compartment, the brilliant opium-eater Thomas De Quincey and his quick-witted daughter, Emily, discover the homicide in a most gruesome manner. Key witnesses and also resourceful sleuths, they join forces with their allies in Scotland Yard, Detective Ryan and his partner-in-training, Becker, to pursue the killer back into the fogbound streets of London, where other baffling murders occur. Ultimately, De Quincey must confront two ruthless adversaries: this terrifying enemy, and his own opium addiction which endangers his life and his tormented soul.

And so ends a really good trilogy. (sigh) 

When I read the first book, and after I told my friend Catherine Russell that I loved the character of Thomas De Quincey, that was in the book, she let me know that Thomas De Quincey was a real person!  He was Thomas De Quincey the Opium Eater. (which is how he is portrayed in the books).  Well, some time ago I got a free download of De Quincey’s Confessions of an Opium Eater, but found it was only 48 pages long.  Now, having read all three books I found another book about his life and ordered it. (Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey by Frances   Wilson.)

 

All three books were captivating. 

Murder as a Fine Art

Inspector of the Dead

Ruler of the Night

 

Morrell’s words put you in England at the time Scotland Yard needed De Quincey’s help.  All of them are so well written, I hate knowing the same characters won’t be used again.

If you like “vintage” England for a crime series you should try the books of David Morrell.

The Forgotten Room

The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams & Lauren Willig.

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: NAL (January 19, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0451474627

Amazon Review

1945: When the critically wounded Captain Cooper Ravenal is brought to a private hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, young Dr. Kate Schuyler is drawn into a complex mystery that connects three generations of women in her family to a single extraordinary room in a Gilded Age mansion.
Who is the woman in Captain Ravenel’s portrait miniature who looks so much like Kate?  And why is she wearing the ruby pendant handed down to Kate by her mother?  In their pursuit of answers, they find themselves drawn into the turbulent stories of Gilded Age Olive Van Alen, driven from riches to rags, who hired out as a servant in the very house her father designed, and Jazz Age Lucy Young, who came from Brooklyn to Manhattan in pursuit of the father she had never known.  But are Kate and Cooper ready for the secrets that will be revealed in the Forgotten Room? 
The Forgotten Room, set in alternating time periods, is a sumptuous feast of a novel brought to vivid life by three brilliant storytellers.

Wow.. this makes 10 books I’ve read by Karen White over the years!  If you wonder why that surprises me, it’s because most of them involve a love story and I am not big into love stories.  It seems however she writes a compelling story around the love story to make them interesting enough for me to enjoy.   In this one there were three generations of mystery to solve along with the love story.  …and I do like family secrets or discovering information on families.  So this one filled the bill nicely.

I think Karen White books are a good gap filler for me to break away from crime now and then.  So, it that’s you.. you may well enjoy this book.  Or.. one of her many other books!

Brevard Zoo

Cathy took me on an adventure!  We went to the Brevard Zoo!  It’s  not a huge zoo, but just enough to be enjoyable! The photo’s below are from our Trek thru the Zoo! 

  

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lost and Gone Forever

Lost and Gone Forever: by Alex Grecian.

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons(May 17, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0399176101

 

an Amazon review..

All of my favorite characters are back so immediately upon starting this book I felt as though I was right back with the London Murder Squad…except that nothing was the same. So…in order to truly get into this book you really have to have read all of the others that came before it. There really isn’t any other way to truly understand what these characters have gone through and how much they have endured. So…briefly…Walter Day has been held captive by Jack ( the Ripper ) for a year. Hammersmith…a former police associate of Day’s…has a private investigator’s practice specifically set up by Claire Day…Walter’s wife…to find Day. Jack is clever and cruel and sadistic is still killing people. There are other people…specifically hired to kill Jack…they are hired by a powerful secret society…not the police. These books take place in Victorian London so everything is kind of squalid, smelly and vermin filled…plus there are lots of orphans. In those days a penny bought a lot! Jack has messed with Walter Day’s head so much that he really doesn’t even know who he is any more.

Alex Grecian has now written 5 books of Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad.  .. and I have read them all!  He built some really good characters and one gets invested enough to want to keep reading more !

In order the books are:  The Yard,  The Black Country,  The Devil’s Workshop, The Harvest Man and Lost and Gone Forever.  In order to really know the characters one should start at the beginning.  Even though they are all new cases, what happens to the main characters changes with each book.  I certainly hope this isn’t the last of the Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad!