Review: Murder in St. Giles

Review: Murder in St. GilesMurder in St. Giles by Ashley Gardner, Jennifer Ashley
Series: Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries #13
Published by JA / AG Publishing on April 10th 2018
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 300
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Very enjoyable entry in the series. This one is more mystery than personal but is an interesting jaunt with plenty of appearances by the cast of characters in the series.

THE STORY: Captain Lacey is called to look at a body in St. Giles by Brewster (who is the bodyguard/spy who follows Lacey around). The man appears to have been beaten to death and Lacey intends to make sure that Brewster is not unjustly accused of the crime. Lacey’s desire to investigate, however, is complicated by his stepson being in danger from his relatives who want to take him away to live with them. This mystery has multiple layers and storylines.

OPINION: This book is focused primarily on the mystery which although Lacey has some concerns about protecting Brewster is not really a personal quest for Lacey. Instead, there is some distance between his emotions and the case (which happens to make him more rational in his investigations). Indeed, the book has a very meaty set of clues and characters who need to be interviewed. The story has a nice flow and ultimately the solution works perfectly for the set of facts.

For me, however, I prefer these books for the personal journeys of Lacey rather than the pure mystery portion of the book. The moments I remember best are of Lacey’s humor and relationships with the recurring cast in the book. Ultimately, I most enjoyed that Lacey has some struggle to make in determining the relative moral positions of the people that he meets.

The secondary story about Lacey’s stepson works to give some personal drama that the main mystery is lacking. I wish that there had been more integration of that story throughout, but I still enjoyed the chaos that the conflict causes in the Lacey household. The ending of that story and the book were especially well done. In fact, the last couple of chapters had me bumping up my rating because the surprises that were revealed. My appreciation was entirely character based as development and changes were evident. This book also nicely sets up some developments that I’m certain will be explored in future books.

WORTH MENTIONING: I’ve become a big fan of a bunch of historical mysteries lately. This series is one of my favorites because Lacey is so imperfect a character who has a strong moral compass that doesn’t always follow the rules.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MURDER IN ST. GILES is the thirteenth book in the Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries series. This mystery is self-contained but there are characters that have stories which go from book to book. I think the book can be read as a standalone unless having to catch up bothers you.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book from the author in order to prepare a review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-half-stars

Review: A Mystery at Carlton House

Review: A Mystery at Carlton HouseA Mystery at Carlton House by Ashley Gardner, Jennifer Ashley
Series: Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries #12
Published by JA / AG Publishing on March 18th 2017
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: This series never disappoints. With a great mystery combined with personal character development, this book kept my interest from page one in a way that feels fresh even as it conforms to the mystery template.

THE STORY: Having returned from Egypt to his life where more domestic matters take precedence, Captain Lacey is asked to investigate the theft of items from the Prince Regent’s Carlton House. Lacey has pressure on all sides to discover what is really happening. A bow runner is trying to blackmail him, the Prince Regent expects a quick resolution and Mr. Denis (the criminal mastermind) is protecting the suspect. Lacey conducts his investigations while personal dramas for his friends and family also come to the forefront.

OPINION: The mystery here is not as intricate as others in the series, but in exchange there is intense personal character matters involved. This book has various overlapping storylines and the reader is kept guessing which, if any, are part of the mystery.

What I love most about this series are the depictions of Lacey and his friends and family. I prefer to read books where the characters are the forefront, not a tricky plot. Readers who enjoy some mystery with strong characterizations will enjoy this book. I liked that we got to know more about the secondary characters and also get to see more of Lacey and Donata in their domestic relationship.

This book is sweet and funny and exactly what I expected to enjoy.

WORTH MENTIONING: Baby, baby, baby.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A MYSTERY AT CARLTON HOUSE is the twelfth book in the Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries series. These are self contained mysteries and thus can be read as standalones. There is, however, continuing character stories that continue from book to book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: The Alexandria Affair

Review: The Alexandria AffairThe Alexandria Affair by Ashley Gardner
Series: Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries #11
on May 17, 2016
Genres: Mystery
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“In late August, 1818, my wife had me abducted, trussed up, and taken down the Thames to be put on a tall ship bound for Egypt.”

FINAL DECISION: These books just keep getting more amazing.  This book is a blend of a buddy travel book, an adventure story, a mystery and a look into Regency antiquities.  I love Lacey more and more in each book and I can’t wait for the next one!

THE STORY:  Captain Lacey’s wife is determined that Gabriel is going to Egypt with his friend Lucius Grenville.  Gabriel has been wavering because of his wife’s pregnancy.  Trussed up and sent away, Gabriel and Lucius quickly turn to the adventure of exploring the exotic locale.  Unfortunately, Gabriel gets mixed up in a murder and treasure hunting prompted by his crime boss contact Dennis.  There is much danger and the return of Gabriel’s “twin” who has been trying to murder him and those he cares about.

OPINION:  One thing I have always loved about the Captain Lacey Mysteries is the intriguing mix of mystery and romance.  Well, in this book the romance element is lessened — although Lacey never forgets about his beloved wife — but there is a new adventure element to take its place.  The emphasis of this book is the mystery so readers should not be fooled.  Here, I was much more intrigued by the adventure story than the mystery.  I became fascinated by the descriptions of Regency Egypt and the expeditions going on there.  There is some progress on some ongoing stories including Lacey’s mystery stalker.

This has become one of my favorite series because it has so many good characters with twisty stories that I want to follow.  I can’t wait until the next book because I knocked off 1/2 star merely because I love the interaction with Lacey and his wife and I missed that here.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book has a lot of cool information about Regency Egypt and the discovery of antiquities.  It feels like an adventure book as well as a mystery.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE ALEXANDRIA AFFAIR is the eleventh book in the Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries series.  The mystery in this book is self contained but there are some overarching storylines and relationships.  I think a new reader could read this book without missing much.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Murder Most Historical

Review: Murder Most HistoricalMurder Most Historical by Ashley Gardner, Jennifer Ashley
Series: Kat Holloway Murders #0.5
Published by JA / AG Publishing on June 9th 2015
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 250
Goodreads
four-stars

MURDER MOST HISTORICAL is a trio of unrelated short mystery stories with a historical bent.

THE BISHOP’S LADY is the story of Emilie d’Armand and takes place in seventeenth century France. Emilie has been left destitute by her deceased husband and exists on the edges of the French court. While visiting, she is mistaken for Angel who died under mysterious circumstances. Emilie discovers that three men had a range of feelings for Angel and that one of them is a murderer. I liked this story because Emilie is a bright interesting character. The story is short but the lively characters keep the action interesting. Rating: 3.5 stars.

A SOUPCAN OF POISON: Kat Holloway is a cook in nineteen century London. She works for a miserable lecherous employer who is found murdered with one of Kat’s knives in his back. Kat is immediately a suspect and she ends up working with the mysterious Daniel McAdam to discover who the true murderer is. This was my favorite of the collection. It is clearly intended to be first in the series and I really hope that there is more to come. Kat is fascinating: professional and practical, she is beginning to fall for Daniel when she realizes that he may be hiding numerous dark secrets. I thought that their relationship was very intriguing and would be interested in finding out more of what happens between them. Rating: 4 stars.

A MATTER OF HONOR is more a paranormal historical than a mystery although it deals with the theft of a family heirloom. Robert Archer is the younger son and is wasting his life in drink and women. He ends up encountering a night walker (aka vampire) woman who he worries might be out to kill him. I thought this story was the weakest of the bunch. I didn’t like Robert and I didn’t really sympathize with his situation. I did like the idea of historical vampires but this one was not interesting enough to keep my interest despite its short length. Rating: 2 stars.

four-stars