On The Reading Table: The Lady Sherlock Books

Book 5: Murder on Cold Street

I found The Lady Sherlock Book series a couple of years ago and was immediately entranced. The series, written by Sherry Thomas, takes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters and turns them on their sides, inside out and upside down. The result is a collection of stories that are part masterful mystery, part exercise in exquisite language, and part deft storytelling. All written with the same attention to language and detail that Doyle gave us in his stories.

Where Doyle creates main characters with backgrounds that are revealed in an extremely limited manner, Thomas provides us with a coterie of people who are complicated, layered, interesting, and occasionally exasperating. Not to mention often funny*.

If you’ve read here for very long, you know I’ve been on a Holmes / Doyle kick for quite a while. In fact, I strongly recommend Stephen Fry’s audio collection of the entire Doyle canon.

If you enjoy a good mystery and want a story that is very much not a + b = c bland, I suggest you start with Sherry Thomas’ “A Study in Scarlet Women” being sure to buckle up for an adventure (or two) that you won’t soon forget. Be prepared; you will eagerly reach for the next volume in the series and continue through until you’ve inhaled the entire series so far.

Yes, you will want to read this series in order. While each book stands alone, there are a few story arcs that continue not only between books, but across the series.

*Charlotte’s sense of fashion is, um, colorful.

Murder on Cold Street” takes us into one of the most complicated and convoluted of Holmes’ cases. This time the client is Inspector Treadles’ wife, who is desperately searching for help to exonerate her husband who has been found locked in a room with two dead men. The Inspector isn’t talking about what actually happened and the information Holmes (and the reader) is initially given isn’t quite what it seems.

Narrated by Kate Reading, this book is a wonderful excursion into an adventure that is part mystery, part romance, part history, and lots of fun.

I’d love to hear what you think of the books. Please add a comment below.

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Revisiting Literary Friends

I’ve been a reader for as long as I could read. That would be somewhere in excess of 6 decades. I tend to prefer historical novels and detective stories with some science fiction and fantasy thrown into the mix.

As such, I’ve covered a reasonably decent swath of material at local libraries. One, in particular, I pretty much cleared out. 🙂

Recently I’ve mentioned that I have been listening to a lot (a LOT) of Sherlock Holmes. For some reason, Holmes, who was a favorite when I was much younger, has become a reliable literary companion when I want something to read, but not have to dig too deep in to keep up with the story.

After quite a few <cough> rereads of Holmes, I recently switched back to the Amelia Peabody series. I have several of the books on audio and enjoy the reader immensely. The books are well written, click a lot of the boxes on my “types of books I want to read” list and, overall, are quite an enjoyable experience. You can learn more about them by reading the Amelia Peabody Series Wiki.

Over on my Reading Table, I have the latest Jim Butcher work along with several shorter pieces that may take a while to get to. I keep hoping that the latest installment of Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” work will be published soon – and I know she is at that point in the process where she is closer to the finish line – but…

The one constant of this time is the need for distraction and engagement. I’m grateful to have some old friends to rely on and be able to find new ones to add to the mix.

So, what’s on your reading table?

Footnote: For those who might be confused, I listen to a lot of audio books. As such, I use the terms ‘listen’ and ‘read’ interchangeably.

From The Reading Table: Lady Hardcastle Mysteries

Looking for a cozy book series that has some interesting twists and turns before the actual mystery?

Author TE Kinsey has created a series focusing on two women of different classes set in the early 1900’s.

The friendship between lady’s maid Florence Armstrong and her employer of many years, Lady Hardcastle, is unusual in that the two share an actual affection towards each other. There is respect and trust built on years of mutual support. It doesn’t hurt that the two have apparently been involved in some … interesting escapades in many locations around the world.

Starting with the very first book in the series, the reader is introduced to suggestions of the two women’s past adventures, albeit with passing references and not that much detail. We are left to imagine…all sorts of things. 🙂 As the series unfolds, the backstory is filled in. A bit.

The series begins with what appears to be a retirement to the country, but since the two can’t seem to be all that far away from murder and mayhem, retirement is in name only.

The stories are interesting, well developed and peopled by a broad array of characters that are intriguing and, often, humorous.

Think “Downton Abbey” meets “Murder, She Wrote”. Sort of.

I particularly enjoy the unfolding of the history of the two along with the attention to detail the author employs.

As for the mysteries, those, too, are well constructed and presented. All in all, a good series to add to your To Be Read List.

There is an interesting interview with the author here.

From The Reading Table: Beryl and Edwina Mysteries

I’m a huge fan of Barbara Rosenblat, who reads a variety of books for audio. One of her most well known series is the Amelia Peabody books. When I discovered that she was reading the Beryl and Edwina Mysteries for author Jessica Ellicott I couldn’t resist checking them out.

The series is set in England in the late 1920’s. It features Beryl Helliwell who is a boisterous American and Edwina Davenport, a very proper British woman. The two are life long friends who reconnect when Beryl decides to stay in England after America has implemented prohibition.

Currently at three books, the stories are centered around Edwina’s home village of Walmsley Parva. The village is full of interesting characters – many hearken back to similar cozy mysteries – and the setting is both comfortable and interesting.

Jessica Ellicott has an interesting website providing information on the series as well as the opportunity to sign up for a newsletter to keep up with the goings on.

I do recommend reading the books in order. There is some back story that feeds not only the main story of each of the book but the series and the character growth will make more sense as you read.

As I said, I love Rosenblat’s work and she does an admirable job with all the voices. I enjoy it so much, the series is one I return to time and again when I need a little something to curl up with.

Please add these to your To Be Read List for the next time you want to read (or listen to) something a bit cozy. 🙂