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The Sans Pareil Mystery

The Sans Pareil Mystery

Escrito por Karen Charlton

Narrado por Michael Page


The Sans Pareil Mystery

Escrito por Karen Charlton

Narrado por Michael Page

valoraciones:
4.5/5 (21 valoraciones)
Longitud:
10 horas
Publicado:
Oct 6, 2015
ISBN:
9781511306249
Formato:
Audiolibro

Descripción

On a cold February night in Regency London, a dark curtain falls on the Sans Pareil Theatre following the death of April Clare, a promising young actress, whose body is found in mysterious circumstances.

Detective Stephen Lavender and his dependable deputy, Constable Woods, quickly discover that nothing is quite as it seems. As successive mysteries unfold, they soon realise that it is not only the actors from the Sans Pareil who are playing a part.

With the Napoleonic War looming dangerously across the Channel, this is a time of suspicion and treachery. Following the clues from the seedy back streets of Covent Garden up through the echelons of society, Lavender and Woods begin to fear that the case is much bigger than they'd dared imagine-and worse, that they are at risk of becoming mere players in a master criminal's shadowy drama.

It will take all of Lavender's skill and wit, and help from the beautiful Magdalena, to bring the mystery of the Sans Pareil Theatre to a dramatic conclusion in the final act.

Publicado:
Oct 6, 2015
ISBN:
9781511306249
Formato:
Audiolibro

Sobre el autor

Karen Charlton is the author of two historical novels, 'Catching the Eagle' and 'The Heiress of Linn Hagh' and a non-fiction genealogy book, 'Seeking Our Eagle.' She has published short stories and numerous articles and reviews in newspapers, magazines and e-zines. An English graduate and an ex-teacher, Karen is also the coordinator of Famelton Writing Services, a literary consultancy which offers editorial services to aspiring authors. www.fameltonwritingservices.com Karen has led writing workshops entitled: 'Good Enough to Publish?' and spoken at a series of literary events across the North of England where she lives. A stalwart of the village pub quiz, Karen also enjoys the theatre and won a Yorkshire Tourist Board award for her Murder Mystery Weekends. Read more about Karen and her books on her website: www.karencharlton.com


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  • (4/5)
    The second in the Detective Lavender series, set in London in 1810, Lavender is the chief detective in the Bow Street Runners. The body of a young woman is found under the floor of a derelict house about to be demolished. She is identified by the pathologist who had seen her on stage at a local theatre.Apart from the murder mystery, the story gives interesting insights into Regency London. The Napoleonic Wars are not going well and London is full of foreigners such as Spanish that have fled from the invaders and French spies and those who who have fled from Bonaparte's regime. William, Duke of Clarence, who lives with an actress, is one of the circle of those who patronise the Sans Pareil theatre. (From the early 1790s until 1811, William lived with his mistress, the actress Dorothy Jordan. They had 10 children who took the surname Fitzclarence). Later he becomes William IV, married to Queen Adelaide. Ironically, in view of the 10 earlier children, their marriage is childless.Lavender himself is very friendly with a Spanish widow. She is also a Catholic in a largely Protestant England.The story becomes a tale of espionage when a coded document is discovered among the dead actress' papers.This was one of those books that could have done with much better proof reading. The "typos" were made more noticeable by an earlier borrower who had gone through with a pencil striking words out and indicating omissions. Some errors were obviously caused by the use of an auto-correcter where the wrong version of a word had been accepted. All would have been funny if it hadn't become so annoying.
  • (5/5)
    This is the second in the author's series of historical mystery fiction set against the background of the Napoleonic Wars. The plot involves a kidnapped actress later found dead, military secrets, imposters and spies. It's a colourful mix, and I like the central protagonists, Detective Stephen Lavender and Constable Ned Woods. There are great female characters also, in particular Stephen's friend Dona Magdalena and Ned's wife Betsy. Plus for me, there was the interest in a short interlude set in Bexleyheath and Sidcup, the part of South East London/North West Kent where I was born and brought up and still live. Here is a description of the area in 1810:"The marshland around Bexleyheath was bleak. Isolated buildings and disconnected settlements scattered the flat landscape. A raw wind whipped over the reed pools and dykes. Apart from a few lonely cattle on the horizon, there was no sign of life. Lavender cursed silently when he noticed that there was no church in the village either. There was only a small street of houses and the windmill".A great series, and I will be reading the others.
  • (2/5)
    I made 126 notes and highlights on this book in Kindle. That's either an excellent sign … or a really, really bad one. I sincerely wish I had paid more attention to the author's and main character's names before requesting this from Netgalley, because I read a free novella by Charlton featuring Detective Lavender some time ago. I loathed it. I didn't believe a word of it, and I never would have chosen another in the series; it was with a sinking feeling that I began to recognize all the things I disliked in the writing and characterization, and with a sigh that I decided to keep reading. I honestly don't know why I bothered to finish; duty, I suppose. Willingness to give a second chance. That'll teach me. Positive things … positive things … Oh! I apparently learned why a theatre green room is (was) a green room: "the soft green interior walls, which according to tradition, helped to rest the cast’s eyes after the glare of candlelight on the stage." And … um … nope. That's it. The hero of the book is Steven Lavender, a young rising star detective whose youth and whatnot I had to keep reminding myself of; he is written as a stuffy and irritating pedant. It was jarring to read that his age was very early thirties. He is cardboard. He is clandestinely seeing a Spanish refugee who is feisty and spicy and all sorts of other clichés. The way she was written, I didn't trust her as far as I could throw her (which, with her being a fictional character and all, isn't far), and I found myself increasingly uncomfortable with the increasingly romance-novel relationship between the two of them. I'll come back to that. This woman hides part of her past from Lavender until the bitter end, and it's one of the silliest examples of a silly trope I've ever seen. The part she wants to hide is not what I found detestable; she's worried about the fact that she shot a couple of French soldiers who would like as not have killed and/or raped her. I felt she ought to be more ashamed of the fact that she abandoned a couple of elderly servants who fought for her. And ger husband "‘never forgave me for abandoning his parents.’" My comment: "Good for him." At several points she talks about returning to Spain; whether this was honest or something meant to elicit a reaction is debatable. She has her son in an expensive school, and seems to only suddenly have the realization that she'll have to pay the fees before too long, which will be a challenge without any income. She settles in what she sees as graceful poverty into a hovel, and seems not to realize that cleaning – or having her servant clean – the place might make it less of a hovel; it's described as being cobwebby. "…She preferred to believe that she lived in simplicity rather than squalor." I believe that would be called "delusional". The third wheel in the book is Constable Woods, of a mounted police unit, whom Lavender keeps co-opting for his own investigations, duties be damned. Did London have an equestrian police force in this period? It's a bit irrelevant, really, since Woods never does his job as part of said. A superior gripes about it, but no changes are made. Woods is all of the clichés of 19th century police constablehood, rather jolly and earthy, a combination of unschooled ignorance and salt of the earth wisdom. Of course Lavender finds him indispensible. The narrative tells us that the two of them are besties – another thing I could not believe in. It is funny, though, that mounted cop thing. Woods and Lavender spend a fair amount of the book galloping hither and yon across London, and it seemed strange. "I propose that we saddle up and go straight to Wandsworth", says Lavender, and it struck me that I never see people riding about the streets of nineteenth century London; they always take a cab. It's a symptom of my dislike of the book that I didn't believe in it. With another author I might never have questioned the hero hopping on a horse and heading off. The writing … Oh, I don't know. The nuts and bolts were serviceable. But … Faced with a corpse that shows no signs of violence, Woods proclaims, ‘It must have been poison …There’s no other way. That’s how the bastards murdered her.’ What about suffocation? Someone scampers about in too-large shoes, and is all uncomfortable; however, the person she swapped shoes with never seems to complain about walking in shoes two sizes too small. I've worn shoes that were about half a size too small ("They'll stretch"), and it was excruciating after about ten minutes. As so often happens, Captain Obvious pays a visit or two: "The room had been ransacked: drawers pulled out, papers thrown everywhere and the wardrobe emptied. It is possible that whoever broke in was looking for something." Ya think? Ah, and that romance. One note I made, at the mention of "Magdalena’s curvaceous body", was "like the corpse", which took me a moment to decipher. Then I remembered: the murder victim was a lovely young woman, whose curvaceous body our intrepid heroes made note of, rather ashamedly. The language of rhe "romantic" scenes was nauseating – purple, overheated, out of character, out of place. Unbelievable. Part of the impenetrability of the book is the repetition.location 760-760: ‘Did she have a sweetheart, or a lover?’ Lavender asked.location 764-764: ‘Did she have a sweetheart, or a lover?’ Lavender asked again.Fine, he had to repeat the question. Did it have to be completely identical? The setting of the theatre – one thing which was a draw for me; I love other mysteries based around the theatre – was, for this author, an odd excuse to over-exercise the word "strutting". I don't know if she has a fixation on "a poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage", but good … grief. (Ow.) Strutting across the stage in men’s clothing" and "famous for strutting across the stage in men’s clothing" and "wear a pair of breeches and strut across a stage" and so on. It's absurd. Oh, look – there's another one: "the actors and actresses strutted across the stage". That's pretty bad. Everyone's speech patterns feel off. Lavender reads like he's supposed to be Sherlock Lite, socially inept in a clueless and puzzled manner. He's irritating. The members of the working class who appear combine stereotypical dropped g's and added h's and so on with incredibly stilted passages. Like "Prostitutes wantonly ply their trade in the Close, outside on the street and inside the rooms." A prostitute solicits Woods – "Martha and I can do you the beast with the two backs for an extra shillin’"… Wouldn't that be three backs? Just sayin'. "You’re debauched – the bleedin’ lot of you!" Really?? And everyone seems to say "Good grief". It's enough to put one off Charlie Brown. Those who don't exclaim "Good grief!" cry out "Gawd’s teeth!" Someone exclaims something (not "good grief", this time) in a whisper. "Several red curls were now plastered to the side of her face with wet tears." How? "…Wiped the greasy gravy from his mouth with the sodden handkerchief he had retrieved from Mrs Willoughby." Ew. A major plot point is that someone is bald when he should have hair – even though last time I checked it's not that unusual for a man to shave his head. (And if hair was a major clue, it ought to have been more prominently mentioned earlier.) The real evidence comes quite a bit later. And, oh, the comma abuse. I kept reminding myself that this was an ARC, but the kind of comma misuse in this book is as much bad writing as lack of editing. I said I would come back to the romance element, and I'm afraid that's where I'm going now. As I think I've made pretty obvious, I didn't like Lavender, and I found Magdalena shifty and too secretive to make a relationship with her palatable, even with someone I didn't like. To make matters worse, the writing in the love scenes was purely nauseating. ‘Is that what I am to you, Stephen?’ she yelled. ‘A lewd squeeze in a darkened room? A bit of fun?' The suggestion he makes more than halfway through the book certainly makes it seem rather that way. It was out of character, it was all kinds of inappropriate, and I was shocked at both the proposition and the fact that the author wrote it in. It made no sense in the circumstances. Worst of all, I called a major plot element well before it was revealed. I've said a hundred times that if I can predict how a mystery is going to go – I, the worst guesser in the known universe, the anti-Holmes – then the author has done something terribly wrong. Then the whole thing devolves into the world's dumbest ever spy novel … By which I mean the spies are the dumbest and the spy techniques are the dumbest and the top-secret data being fought for is the dumbest … It was only when someone evades the following dynamic duo of Lavender and Woods by the single most asinine maneuver I have ever had the misfortune to read that I started using profanity in my Kindle notes. Why did I give this two stars to start with? I guessed most of the book's mystery, but this I can't figure it out. I think I was trying to be nice. I think I'd do better to be honest.The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.
  • (4/5)

    Esto le resultó útil a 1 persona

    This follow-up to the first Detective Lavender mystery, The Heiress of Linn Hagh, is set in an actual theatre of the time that was run by a woman. And speaking of women, Lavender's love interest, the beautiful Spanish Magdalena, plays a much more important role in this book-- both as lover and in having her share of the action. In that day attitudes towards Catholics generally were not at all sympathetic, especially the opinions of people in authority. If Lavender marries Magdalena, it could be a career-ending (or at least -limiting) move. It will be interesting to see how Charlton deals with this in future books.The pacing of The Sans Pareil Mystery tends to be slow until just before the end when all the pieces of the puzzle start coming together. It's a solid entry in this fledgling series and holds a great deal of promise for the future.

    Esto le resultó útil a 1 persona