Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “historical mystery”

Captain Tuttle’s CBR4 Review #52 – Wine of Violence: A Medieval Mystery by Priscilla Royal

To begin with, the author provides an introduction with some information about the religious order that Tyndal Priory (the fictional location of the story) was based on (the Order of Fontevraud, which is where Eleanor of Aquitaine ended up). The order was woman-positive, and the Prioress was over both the nuns and the monks. Royal has certainly done her research, and it shows. I’m kind of a medieval nut (studied medieval art history in college, and started taking masters’ courses in medieval history, but never finished the grad degree), so this story was right up my alley.

It’s 1270 in England, at Tyndal Priory (with monks and nuns running a hospital).  The new prioress Eleanor is young, and her arrival causes some resentment in the priory because she got the job through her family’s political connections.  She was needed because the old prioress died, peacefully and in the company of her sisters. Brother Rupert was there too, he and the prioress were best friends. Just as she is about to die, she reaches out to Rupert, her confessor, to tell him something important. He didn’t hear, and she died without letting anyone know that she had wrongly accused someone.

When Eleanor arrives, she not only has to deal with cranky nuns and monks, but the brutal murder of Brother Rupert. Was he killed by a random killer, or because someone thought he had information that needed to be kept secret? Eleanor investigates, with the help of a new monk, Thomas. Thomas has an interesting past, and has some attitude issues.

The characters were interesting and well-written, and the story gives an in-depth look into the cloistered lives of the nuns and monks. I would recommend this book to anyone. Apparently it’s a series, and I will definitely be investigating (hee) the rest of them.

faintingviolet’s #CBR4 review #40: A Broken Vessel by Kate Ross

The Cannonball has given me many things this year (Ready Player One, The Fault in Our Stars, Dreamers of the Day) but I think introducing me to the character of Julian Kestrel and his mysteries is perhaps my favorite. I know that I haven’t rated the first book, Cut to the Quick, or this one, A Broken Vessel, with as many stars as the previous three but I simply adore the characters Kate Ross created in a way that I did not feel in the other Cannonball finds.   I love the characters of Julian, Dipper, and Dr. MacGregor enough that I can overlook my displeasure at spending so much time with Dipper’s sister, Sally.

Sally Stokes is a prostitute and thief who pickpockets her johns. We soon find out she is also Dipper’s younger sister who he has not seen in years. Much of A Broken Vessel is spent with Sally as the reader views the events through Sally’s eyes. Sally’s adventure starts in London’s Haymarket district, where she picks up three men in turn and nicknames them Bristles, Blue Eyes, and Blinkers. From each Sally steals a handkerchief – and from one she mistakenly steals a letter which contains an urgent plea for help.  It isn’t until she runs into her brother after being roughed up by Blinkers that Sally discovers the letter, and who better to help her unravel the mystery of the girl in need of help than one Julian Kestrel.

Julian, Dipper, and Sally (with an assist by Dr. MacGregor) come up with a plan to discover the identity of the girl in question and find out that she has died. Julian is convinced it was murder, and upon getting the backing of a magistrate, sets about to prove it. Enter Sally, who as a lady – and one of ill repute – she is particularly suited to investigate the circumstances of the girl’s death in a reform house. Julian and Dipper do their own sleuthing, turning up a human trafficking circuit and ultimately the person responsible for the murder.

This one was not perfect, mainly because while I acknowledge that Kate Ross gets the slang and other language right, it felt like it got in the way of the storytelling. Much of the language is dead to the American reader and at times it felt like I spent more times deducing what Sally was saying than what it meant for the story overall. Still a worthy read and I have Whom The Gods Love lined up to read in the next few weeks. I will be sad to end the Kestrel mysteries, and I know that I won’t be able to hold off finishing the fourth later this year.


lyndamk #cbr4 review #9: The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl

Promise me you will read another Matthew Pearl novel before you read this one. Please. Read more at my blog.

lyndamk #cbr4 review #8: The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl

Maggots, mystery, and literary men. Read more at my blog.

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