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Sherlock’s Many Roles: A Review of “The Consulting Detective Trilogy Part II: On Stage” by Darlene A. Cypser

2 Dec

The Consulting Detective Trilogy Part II-On Stage

The Consulting Detective Trilogy Part II: On Stage by Darlene A. Cypser. Foolscap & Quill, 2017.*

The art of disguise and role-playing serve Sherlock Holmes very well in the conduct of his investigations, playing a significant part in several of his most famous cases . In A Scandal in Bohemia, for example, Holmes assumes two different disguises, appearing first as a drunken stable groom and later as a clergyman, during his efforts to recover a compromising photograph of the King of Bohemia from the shrewd Irene Adler. Adler herself takes on the disguise of a youthful boy to walk past Holmes unnoticed and ultimately defeat his purposes–earning his respect as a worthy adversary. Holmes clearly enjoyed assuming other identities, and practised their effects even on his friends. In The Empty House, Holmes staged a dramatic reveal indeed, to apprise his friend Dr Watson that he, Holmes, had in fact survived the seemingly fatal scuffle with Prof Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls (in The Final Problem). He arrived at Watson’s study disguised as an eccentric old bookseller, bent in body, and when Watson turned away for an instant, the old man straightened to his full height, becoming Sherlock once again.  Watson fainted, as he reports it, “for the first and the last time in my life.” Holmes was  repentant, regretting the shock he had caused by his “unnecessarily dramatic reappearance.” When Watson recovered, Holmes recounted his year incognito as the peripatetic Norwegian Sigerson, taking obvious pleasure in assuming yet another identity.

How did Holmes acquire these skills? Where did he learn to transform himself so thoroughly and stay in character?  Sherlockian, filmmaker, and historian Darlene Cypser answers these questions brilliantly in her new novel, The Consulting Detective Trilogy Part II: On Stage. Although it is the second part of a trilogy, it is really the third book in her ongoing series of novels on the evolution of young Sherlock Holmes as a consulting detective. This multipart bildungsroman begins with The Crack in the Lens, in which seventeen-year-old Sherlock first matches wits with Prof Moriarty, the mathematics tutor hired by the boy’s demanding father. Sherlock’s romance with a Violet Rushdale and an ensuing tragedy trigger psychological trauma, which will have long-lasting effects on his life and personality; this period also witnesses the young man’s growing resolve to craft his own career as a consulting detective–a decision that begins to open what will be a permanent rift with his father. Sherlock means to acquire all the skills necessary for the science of detection, and if this includes going to University for some formal education in the chemical and other sciences, he is willing to accede to this opportunity–his father’s wish, in hopes of changing his mind–and make the best of it. Sherlock’s rocky career at Cambridge is recounted in The Consulting Detective Trilogy Part I: University (which I reviewed here), and he begins to grapple with some cases that arise, applying the skills he has so far acquired–in other words, commencing his true life’s work.

When we meet Sherlock in Part II: On Stage, he has been “sent down” from Cambridge because of an explosion he caused in the chemistry lab with an experiment of his devising that went awry. Going home to his unforgiving father in Yorkshire is not an option, so he seeks shelter with his brother Mycroft in London, letting himself in by picking the lock. “If you are going to make a habit of breaking and entering you might want to leave fewer scratches around the key hole in the future. It is quite obvious, ” says Mycroft. These scenes between Sherlock and his phlegmatic elder brother are a wonderful way to begin, since Mycroft patiently lets Sherlock regain his equilibrium before demanding an explanation. Cypser captures Mycroft’s tone perfectly.

Sherlock must pay for the extensive damages at the Cambridge lab,  and so starts looking for a job to cover his debt. He and Mycroft take an evening out at the theatre to see  Henry Irving’s noteworthy performance of Hamlet, and they run into Sherlock’s classmate Lord Cecil. In my review of Part I: University, I made the connection to the archetypal bildungsroman, Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship by Goethe. In that book, the young hero and his friends form a theatre company to put on Hamlet. This is a happy coincidence, since Sherlock’s chance meeting with his University acquaintance leads him to audition and secure a position with a fledgling theatre group, the Corycian Company led by an ambitious manager named Sassanof. Holmes takes the place of the company’s unsatisfactory Tybalt in their first production, Romeo and Juliet, and he discovers in himself a natural flair for performing on stage. Combined with his hard work and keen intelligence, Sherlock makes a success as an actor from the outset, and decides to stay. Since he excels at swordplay, Holmes soon becomes the company’s resident expert at staging fight scenes as they arise in their expanding repertoire. I should say that although Tybalt is his first part, it is not the first role he assumes. That honor goes to  “William Escott,” the stage name he adopts.

One of the perks and responsibilities of acting in this company was the chance to organize and stage a benefit performance, and keep a major portion of the proceeds. Holmes had garnered further experience in a benefit performance of King Lear produced by an older colleague and mentor, Matthew Hallows. Hallows asked his astute young friend “Escott” to play the demanding role of Edgar (and his disguised double Tom o’Bedlam), once again expanding Sherlock’s acting and swordfighting repertoire. When his own turn to select a benefit play arrived, Sherlock made a daring choice. The company had already been performing Colley Cibber’s reduced and softened version of Richard III, which had replaced Shakespeare’s searing original in the theatre of the day, but Sherlock proposed to put on Shakespeare’s Richard III, without compromise, and he cast himself as the lead. Besides staging the drama, the player heading up the benefit was responsible for publicizing it. For this task, a fellow actor offered to join Holmes in recreating one of the swordfights of the play for free in Regents Park. He also heeded the advice to enlist the help of family members.  For the sake of making money to put toward paying his college debt, Sherlock “swallowed his pride” and called on Mycroft to help sell tickets and fill the house. In his own discreet but highly effective manner, Mycroft got the job done:

Mycroft did not hesitate. He took the tickets for the boxes and the dress circle and passed around circulars among his acquaintances. He made no mention of any familial relationship, only that these tickets were for a benefit performance for a young actor who had the temerity to revive Shakespeare’s Richard III. The tickets sold rapidly in his hands.

I love the way Cypser catches Mycroft’s tone and diction, in the snatch of indirect speech I’ve highlighted in bold. (I could certainly hear Charles Gray’s voice, from the Granada television productions, in my head.)

Was Sherlock up to the task of portraying the coldly calculating Richard III in all his malevolence and deformity of soul? I leave it to the reader to imagine, or rather, I encourage you not to miss Cypser’s account of Sherlock’s performance and the reviews it received in the popular press.

The theatre company’s performances were not without incident, many of them quite threatening and mysterious. These mysteries are smoothly interpolated in the story, and they enable Sherlock to fashion an apprenticeship of sorts in collaboration with the local police detectives. One such case puts Sherrinford’s sons in harm’s way–they go missing like Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens–and the solution will reintroduce Sherlock’s friend Jonathan Beckwith (who appeared in his own novella). At one point, as Sherlock and Jonathan are discussing the possibility of child abduction and trafficking, it becomes too much for Sherrinford to hear, but Sherlock replies in a voice both “cold and firm,”  showing the mature insight he already possessed and the philosophy that would guide his career.

“If we are to defeat evil  in the world, then we must acknowledge that it exists and try to understand its habits and motivations. If we allow emotions to cloud our minds then we will not be able to find your children.”

The particular gift of The Consulting Detective Trilogy is the opportunity to witness that, for all his firmness and resolve, Sherlock is still learning to master his own emotions and summon the coolness of judgment and deduction that will serve him best in his many cases yet to come.

In the latter part of the novel, we learn that owing to severe (and rather mysterious) damages to their London home theatre, the Corycian players are forced to become a traveling company. They embark on a wide-ranging U.S. tour that will take them to New York, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco. Travel was, of course, by rail, and the accounts of the train travel, especially the harrowing ride over the Rockies, were marvelous in their historical detail and genuine suspense–typical of the pace and interest that Cypser sustains throughout this novel. In the spirit of A Study in Scarlet, some stops along the way show the actors a bit of the Wild West and some of its perils.

At each location, Holmes/Escott filled his down time with careful study of the local newspapers, and on several occasions he looked in at the police department to inquire about problems that caught his interest. In New York, he made the acquaintance of Wilson Hargreaves (who would one day be of help in wrapping up The Adventure of the Dancing Men). This time, Hargreaves enlisted young Holmes’ aid in some undercover work, once more honing his skills at disguise and role playing, not to mention the daring business of catching criminals in the act! Back at his job, Holmes picked up many new roles along the way, such as acting in all three parts of Henry VI, which added to Richard III, form a tetralogy. Now, what with impersonating a struggling playwright in his undercover work by day and continuing to act by night, it became quite a feat of juggling and compartmentalized memory.

Yet it was even more important to stay in character, and to keep this character separate from both William Escott and Sherlock Holmes. That included coordinating his surveillance with his complex performance schedule in which he was playing four different characters on different nights. He had to remind himself who he was supposed to be at the moment. It was a unique challenge that he savoured.

Yes, it was just the sort of challenge that Sherlock would savor all his life, to keep other more troubling emotions at bay.

I can only surmise that Cypser herself savors the challenge of creating such a plausible world for young Sherlock Holmes to inhabit. This book is a wonderfully sophisticated theatre novel. Initially, it reminded me of Rafael Sabatini’s Scaramouche, in which a young lawyer joins an acting company and has many attendant adventures. But The Consulting Detective Trilogy Part II: On Stage is thoroughly a novel of Sherlock Holmes. It is clearly steeped in knowledge of this endlessly fascinating character and his milieu in the Canon of stories and novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, readers will enjoy a perfectly apt quote from said Canon at the head of each chapter. But more than that, it works as a satisfying historical novel of theatre life and city life in the period 1875-1876 in England and the United States (and briefly in Paris). This historical grounding  especially enhances the chapters that cast young Sherlock as a touring player–and budding detective–in the major American cities of his day.

I applaud this latest installment of Cypser’s trilogy. I enjoyed the theatre lore about Shakespearean characters dear to my heart from The Fictional 100, such as Hamlet, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet. Above all, I prize these further adventures of Sherlock Holmes himself (who ranks ninth on my 100 list). I loved standing in the wings to watch Sherlock’s many roles On Stage.

*Note: I received this book free of charge from the author. 

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Review+Giveaway: “The Secret of the Abbey” by Kathleen C. Perrin #FranceBT

17 Aug

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My Review

The Secret of the Abbey is the third book in Kathleen C. Perrin’s impressive series of historical romances, The Watchmen Saga, set in medieval France. All these books have gorgeous covers displaying on-site photography; Perrin acknowledges her daughter Christine for their design. Book III has perhaps the most beautiful cover so far. The young woman’s face mirrors the alert intelligence and strength of purpose of the book’s heroine, Katelyn Michaels, and the red gown will figure in the plot.

 

In each installment of the saga, Katelyn travels back in time to three key moments in the history of France, when the outcome of events will determine the fate of Mont-Saint-Michel and its survival as a stronghold of faith. In The Keys of the Watchmen, Katelyn receives her unexpected calling as a Watchman and discovers her first mission defending the Mount in 1424 against an attack by English forces during the 100 Years’ War. In The Sword of the Maiden, Katelyn returns to a point five years later when her mission takes her to meet Joan of Arc. Katelyn proves to be the perfect counselor and friend for La Pucelle, the Maiden, who must overcome serious obstacles–opposition from her countrymen and struggles within herself–before she can fulfill her own calling to save France. Katelyn knows that history must take its course, because securing the French throne will also safeguard Mont-Saint-Michel, but it is agonizing to watch her friend, Jehanne, the courageous maiden, suffer her cruel destiny as a martyr.

Ultimately, it is the Archangel Michael who is the defender of Mont-Saint-Michel. The Watchmen receive their calling and their instructions through his spiritually intimated instructions. Jean Le Vieux (his name means ‘the old one”) passes along his wisdom as he trains Katelyn, young Nicolas le Breton, and the middle-aged, retired Brother Thibault, all of whom will play key roles in protecting The Secret of the Abbey. They are needed because the most dangerous foe of the Mount is not earthly at all but rather a fallen angel named Abdon who inhabits a series of bodies of wicked men with the aim of discovering the secret of the ancient stones that are hidden deep within the abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel. Abdon and his master hope to usurp the power of the stones in service of cosmic evil.

At the end of Book II, Nicolas was gravely injured in a battle with Abdon’s host, whom he killed, and he was still in a coma. Katelyn was herself near despair. Brother Thibault sent her back to the future (without her consent), to her home and family in America, hoping to spare her months, perhaps years, of anguish. That is where The Secret of the Abbey takes up the thread of all their lives. Unable to share her feelings with anyone in her time, Katelyn resumed her life, finished high school, and wrote an account of her adventures with Joan of Arc, disguised as a historical novel. Presumably, this was Book II, The Sword of the Maiden. This novel turns out to be a surprise publishing success, and she receives a sizeable advance to write a prequel. She will use this money to travel back to France and hopefully return to her beloved Nicolas, provided the Archangel lays the groundwork. She inherits an inn on the Mount, not so fortuitously called L’Auberge de l’Archange (the inn of the Archangel), and it seems she has been provided with the means to stay in France and provide for herself and her family to join her there. She promptly takes up this opportunity and begins managing the inn, while she waits for her next mission from the Archangel to be communicated to her.

Meanwhile, back in the 15th century, Nicolas wakes from his coma, but with amnesia for the last several years.  He does not remember Katelyn or their missions together. Nor does he remember the death of their beloved mentor, Jean Le Vieux. Brother Thibault, who has been faithfully caring for him, fills him in on events as best he can, but he hesitates to reveal to Nicolas his relationship with Katelyn in his present state of mind. A time-traveling Jean Le Vieux pays Nicolas a visit, and tries to quiet his indignation over his amnesia.

Oh, my dear Nicolas. This is not a new teaching for you. We have spoken of it many times, my son. Life is not just. Indeed, it is a necessary condition of mortality. For us to be truly tested, to see whether we will choose good over evil, there must be opposition in all things. If there were no opposition, ‘twould not be a test. The power of evil is real, and God cannot shelter you from the consequences of your own choices, or from the evil acts of others that may affect you, even when you stand blameless.

Jean Le Vieux also brings Nicolas news of his next mission, which will take him 150 years into the future, and shares the Archangel’s plans for Brother Thibault, who is instructed to marry! No one is more surprised at this than Thibault himself, and he wonders who would want to marry him? Only an exceptional woman who could see his heart. Thibault had learned a great deal from Katelyn about sanitary practices and caring for the sick effectively; she also left him with some medicines.  One day, a girl comes to the abbey imploring his help as healer for her gravely ill sister. It is the sister, Amée, who will become his future wife.  The scene in which Thibault administers life-saving treatment to Amée brought tears to my eyes–and this was only page 97!  Perrin’s beautiful writing drew me in to care about Amée as Thibault did and to marvel at Thibault’s own depth of feeling for this woman–a new experience for him.

His marriage was crucially important because Nicolas, traveling to the year 1577, would lodge in Jean Le Vieux’s old cottage–so familiar to him–but now owned by one Thomas Thibault, a descendant of Nicolas’s old friend. Thomas was himself an appointed Guardian of Mont-Saint-Michel and a trustworthy keeper of the family papers and the covert business of the Watchmen. He carefully explained to Nicolas the political situation of the times, pitting Catholics and Huguenots (French Protestants) against each other in the French Wars of Religion. The Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre (1572) was a bloody precursor of the hatreds rampant at the time of Nicolas’s arrival. Perrin provides ample historical endnotes to clarify some of the political and religious rivalries, along with family trees of the Catholic Valois and the Huguenot Bourbons.

But don’t worry that you need to memorize all this background to follow the adventure to come. As soon as Katelyn travels with Nicolas back to Thomas Thibault’s cottage and begins to share his mission, the story takes off at a gallop and all the necessary history is seamlessly introduced by Katelyn where needed to advance the plot. Katelyn’s personality continues to leap off the page in this third installment of the saga, and Perrin’s writing is strongest when she is writing in the voice of this marvelously alive young woman. She and Nicolas must re-learn how to communicate in several languages–French, English, and Katelyn’s frank and colloquial American speech–to bridge the cultural gap of centuries between them, when he comes to fetch her in the 21st century.

“Look, I know you don’t remember me,” she continued, switching from French to English, “but it’s okay. We’ll take this slowly.”

He had forgotten that he spoke English so well, and yet he understood her perfectly…except for that odd word. Okay, okay. He tumbled the word around in his mind. He knew it meant something, but he couldn’t remember. However, at least she knew he suffered from memory loss, and she did not reproach him for it.

“I apologize, Mademoiselle Michaels, but ’tis true. I do not remember you or anything about you,” he replied. He saw what he judged to be a glimmer of sadness in her eyes as he said these words. “But I assure you, it will not prevent us from working together as the Archangel has instructed. You are to return with me as quickly as you can prepare yourself.”

“First of all, we have to get this straight,” she said as she met his gaze again. “You are to call me Katelyn, not Mademoiselle, and not Mademoiselle Michaels. We’ve been through this before, so don’t fight me on it. Okay?”

“It…it,” he muttered like an idiot, “it feels so uncomfortable for me to call someone I don’t know by her given name.”

“I know, I know,” she said. “I get it, but get over it because you do know me, and like I say, we’ve been through it all before. Just humor me on this, won’t you please? It’s Katelyn.”

“Katelyn,” he said. “And what is this ‘okay’ you keep using?”

“Oh for heaven’s sake,” she said, and he could sense she was frustrated. “Déjà vu. Like I said, we’ve been through all of this before. As you will soon find out, I can’t speak without using the word ‘okay,’ so you’d better learn it fast….” (pp. 220-221)

Katelyn was warned that Nicolas would not remember their relationship–neither their romance nor their marriage in the 15th century. But Abdon and the French Huguenots are on the move and that is their first priority. There is a wonderful moment when Katelyn wins over the French governor of the Mount to her plan, using a combination of assertive argument and subtle threats. Nicolas is enormously proud of her abilities, and yet confused by the strength of his feelings for her. As usual for them, there is “no time” for them to work this out before being separated; Nicolas and Katelyn each go undercover with prominent French Huguenot families to learn their plans vis-à-vis Mont-Saint-Michel. The unfolding of events is beautifully plotted. I admire Perrin’s skill in working out all the complex details to contribute to the big picture, consistently and meaningfully.

Katelyn is the only one of the Watchmen who doesn’t know the Secret of the Mount, the one she’s nevertheless been protecting through all their battles and trials. This was decided for her protection, and in foresight of some of the attempts Abdon would make to wring the secret from her.  In Book III, she will finally learn the secret, along with some surprising revelations about herself and her family. The secret the Watchmen have been protecting for centuries is–well, of course, I can’t say. But it is worth waiting, along with Katelyn, for the perfect moment to reveal it. It is an interesting mix of theology and cosmology extrapolated imaginatively into the world of this story. I suspect it is influenced by the author’s personal beliefs and faith tradition–which is her right. My one objection might be to some of the anticlericalism voiced by Nicolas and Jean Le Vieux, which sounded a bit anachronistic for 15th-century Catholics immersed in the pervasive piety of a place like Mont-Saint-Michel.

At the end of this highly enjoyable reading journey, I can highly recommend this book and the whole Watchmen Saga. Kathleen Perrin is equally strong in creating engaging, believable characters and in managing complex plots, transforming them into well-paced, suspenseful, and romantic fiction.  And she does her research! I have to say that Katelyn and Nicolas are people I’d want to meet in any century, and I feel that special fondness for them that only a gifted writer can inspire.

***

Kathleen C. Perrin

on tour

August 14-25, 2017

the secret-of-the-abbey cover

The Secret of the Abbey

(historical fiction)

Release date: June 3, 2017
Self-published at Langon House

565 pages

ISBN: 978-0692877975

Website | Goodreads

SYNOPSIS

After unwillingly leaving a comatose Nicolas behind on Mont Saint Michel in 1429, Katelyn Michaels is distraught to be back in the United States in modern times. When a series of remarkable events facilitates her taking up residence on the Mount and reveals why Katelyn was called as a Watchman, her fondest hope is to be reunited with Nicolas, regardless of the circumstances. However, when Nicolas unexpectedly arrives with a new mission for her, Katelyn is devastated to learn that his head injury has deprived him of any memories of their relationship. Nonetheless, she is determined to once again save the Mount—this time in sixteenth-century France amidst violent religious turmoil—and rekindle Nicolas’s feelings for her. The couple’s love and loyalty is tested as she and Nicolas attempt to unmask the true source of the threat¬—their adversary Abdon—sort out their conflicting emotions, and deal with the consequences of an astounding age-old secret.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kathleen C. PerrinKathleen C. Perrin
holds bachelor’s degrees in French and Humanities
from Brigham Young University and is a certified French translator. Besides being the author of The Watchmen Saga, she has published several non-fiction articles, academic papers, and a religious history about Tahiti.
Kathleen has lived in Utah, New York City, France, and French Polynesia. She and her French husband have spent years investigating the mysteries and beauties of his native country—where they have a cottage—and have taken tourist groups to France. The Perrins have three children and currently reside in Utah.

Visit her website.
See here gorgeous pictures related to the book.

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*Note*: I received a copy of the title from the publisher for purpose of honest review.  I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

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Review and Giveaway: “Messandrierre” by Angela Wren #FranceBT

26 Feb

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My Review

Sherlock Holmes once remarked to Dr. Watson, as they were taking a train out of London to work on a case at a country house:

“Do you know, Watson,” said he, “that it is one of the curses of a mind with a turn like mine that I must look at everything with reference to my own special subject. You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of their isolation and of the impunity with which crime may be committed there.”

“Good heavens!” I cried. “Who would associate crime with these dear old homesteads?”

“They always fill me with a certain horror. It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.” (from The Adventure of the Copper Beeches)

Detective Jacques Forêt left his investigative job in Paris to take up a post as gendarme, a regular policeman, in Messandriere, a rural village in the Cévennes region.  He had hopes that this new, less high-powered assignment would help him heal from an injury and traumatic events in Paris (left shadowy) and bring him a measure of peace. Yet it is not working out this way.  Numbers Jacques (as he became known on the Paris force) cannot help noticing the mounting total of strange disappearances in this tiny village. Meeting with his associate Thibault Clergue for lunch, they chew over more than their plate of charcuterie:

“That’s four disappearances in thirteen months, Thibault.”  Deciding to leave the ham until last he took a mouthful of salami instead and chewed on it.  “That’s almost Paris statistics and this is a village a fraction of the size of the city.”

“Ah.” Clergue scraped his fork through a slice of rosette and stuffed it into his mouth. “Numbers Jacques!”

The use of his old nickname from his time in the Judiciaire in Paris made him wince…

Another thing that is making Jacques Forêt wince is the aloofness of his girlfriend, photographer Beth Samuels, who has just returned to Messandrierre but chose not to let him know herself.  It seems they were very close during her last visit, but this time she is pulling away from him. She is overwhelmed with questions surrounding her deceased husband Dan’s curious business dealings and her own concerns about disposing of their property.  She clearly still admires Jacques but doesn’t want to let herself resume their relationship–the very thing Jacques wants above all else.

Beth becomes embroiled in the string of disappearances when a couple of hiking tourists stop for the entire afternoon at her place, and then one of them, Rob Myers, fails to show up to meet his friend Will later that week.  Beth is very concerned about Rob’s whereabouts but she is evasive when Jacques must question her in his capacity as Messandrierre’s gendarme.

“Did they say anything about where they were going?” Jacques noticed that her frown had returned and that she was twisting her wedding ring round and round her finger. He wondered why. “Or, perhaps, they mentioned what their plans were?” Putting his notebook down he observed her as she formed her response.  A moment later, when he recognized that she was avoiding his gaze, he prompted her gently.  “Anything they said could be helpful, Beth.”

“But that’s the point.  Had I known that you would be here today asking me about them I would have paid more attention.  But it was just chitchat, you know.  They said something about working for the summer.”  She looked at the floor.

Her reticence disturbs him, both professionally and personally: what could she be hiding?   The investigation continues and before long, Beth is in real danger of becoming the next missing person.  To me, Beth seems too trusting and takes too many chances; she might benefit from following the old maxim to be careful when talking to strangers!

Messandrierre works very well as a mystery/thriller.  About 10% into the book, I caught myself having forgotten for a few moments that I was reading–surely a good sign–instead, I was completely caught up in the story and its very effective suspense.  The author uses a lot of dramatic irony, in which the reader knows that one character or another is blithely hurtling into danger, and the dénouement is quite chilling.  Sherlock Holmes was right about the “dreadful” crimes that can go unnoticed in the “smiling and beautiful countryside,” unless he and Watson–or Jacques Forêt–are on the case.  I look forward eagerly to the next books in this new mystery series.

Besides the author’s website be sure to visit her blog, James et Moi, to read her illuminating “interviews” with her characters, Jacques and Beth. I loved reading these charming (and rather sly) pieces and seeing the beautiful photos of France she used to illustrate them:

 

******

Angela Wren

on tour

February 23-27

with

Messandrierre cover

Messandrierre

(murder mystery/romance)

Release date: December 8, 2015
at Crooked Cat Publishing Ltd

119 pages

ISBN: 978-1910510759

Website | Goodreads

******

SYNOPSIS

Sacrificing his job in investigation following an incident in Paris, Jacques Forêt has only a matter of weeks to solve a series of mysterious disappearances as a Gendarme in the rural French village of Messandrierre. But, as the number of missing persons rises, his difficult and hectoring boss puts obstacles in his way. Steely and determined, Jacques won’t give up and, when a new Investigating Magistrate is appointed, he becomes the go-to local policeman for all the work on the case. Will he find the perpetrators before his lover, Beth, becomes a victim? Messandrierre – the first in a new crime series featuring investigator, Jacques Forêt.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Messandrierre Angela Wren

Angela Wren
Having followed a career in Project and Business Change Management, I now work as an Actor and Director at a local theatre. I’ve been writing, in a serious way, for about 5 years. My work in project management has always involved drafting, so writing, in its various forms, has been a significant feature throughout my adult life. I particularly enjoy the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work. My short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical. I also write comic flash-fiction and have drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio. The majority of my stories are set in France where I like to spend as much time as possible each year.

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*Note*: I received an advance electronic copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.  I did not receive any other compensation, and the views expressed in my review are my own opinions.  

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CHILDREN'S STORIES TO ENTERTAIN AND EDUCATE

Literary ramblings etc

"Book collecting...is not a hobby. Those who do it must do it" (Jeanette Winterson).

Some of my best friends are fictional...

Life in Slow Motion

Where Life, Faith, and Chronic Pain Collide

Shelf Love

live mines and duds: the reading life

The Fictional 100

Some of my best friends are fictional...

The Evolving Critic

Art and Culture