What I'm Reading

Wednesday Feb 01 2012
by Sian

I was recommending the Sarah Caudwell ‘Hilary Tamar’ series to my sister last year when she recommended Deanna Raybourn in return. I assumed it would be in the same genre, but it wasn’t, Raybourn’s ‘Lady Julia’ series is a historical mystery set in Victorian England. I don’t normally do historical fiction, but I almost always like what my sister likes so I tried it. Well. As you know I’m now a devoted convert not only to Raybourn but the genre and it’s opened up my reading possibilities tremendously.

 It was the Tor (publisher) newsletter that brought Madeleine E. Robins ‘Sarah Tolerance’ series to my attention, but a quick email to the store to ask them to keep an eye out for Point of Honour and Petty Treason in used resulted in an immediate response saying they were waiting for me on the shelf. Sarah Tolerance is a Agent of Inquiry in 19th century England, having found after running away with her brother’s fencing master at the age of 16 and returning to England upon his death the only ‘respectable’ vocation available to her is prostitution. So instead she and her sword turn to solving other people’s problems while Mad King George keeps the country on its toes. Thankfully, a third book, The Sleeping Partner, was just released in October and is waiting for me on the shelf.

 With my mind open to historical opportunities, I picked up Ariana Franklin’s Mistress of the Art of Death and was instantly hooked by the story of Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar, who becomes Henry II’s personal pathologist (although she wouldn’t call herself that). I love all the characters in this richly drawn and clearly carefully researched series and the fact that Adelia is a woman ahead of her time. I flew through The Serpent’s Tale and Grave Goods , and admit to saving A Murderous Procession for a special occasion, as due to Franklin’s (nee Diana Norman) death last year there will be no more.

 Speaking of books originally picked up in a slow moment at Whodunit?, I had flipped through Caro Peacock’s A Foreign Affair in the past but rejected on account of it being, you guessed it, a historical mystery. But this time I picked it up and was quickly finding myself on the second book in the ‘Liberty Lane’ series, A Dangerous Affair. Also set in Victorian England, the series finds Liberty Lane at a loss after the death of her father. After finding her father’s murderer, she becomes known to a young Benjamin Disraeli and ends up caught up in a variety of courtly and political intrigues. Five books are available in the series with a sixth coming in 2012, so lots to sink your teeth into.

 And finally, if I’ve not recommended creating your own year of reading calendar, might I now? A little bit of time spent on the internet (and our lists!) can help you collate a monthly list of all your favourite author’s upcoming titles. So at a glance, I know I’m particularly looking forward to Gail Carriger’s Timeless and Ellen Byerrum’s Death on Heels, both releasing in February. 

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