Book Reviews

Author: Kate Ross
Series: Julian Kestrel Mysteries
Individual Titles: Cut to the Quick, A Broken Vessel, Whom the Gods Love, and The Devil in Music

I never thought I'd find any well-written, historically accurate, and interesting mystery novels, but I stumbled on these one day (literally - the rug in the bookstore wasn't quite flat) and they're fantastic. The sleuth, 25-year-old London society dandy Julian Kestrel, is full of depth and intellect despite the stereotypes, and the supporting characters, from his ex-fingersmith (that's a pickpocket, by the way) valet, Dipper, to his friend and companion Dr. MacGregor, have fully developed personalities and quirks of their own. The first three novels take place in England, mostly in and around London, the fourth (by far my favorite, but hey, I am a musician after all) is set in Italy, specifically Milano and surroundings, all in the 1820s. The period details are plentiful but not obtrusive, and the varied plotlines are thought-provoking as well as entertaining, from a murdered nameless girl who somehow turns up in Julian's bed in Cut to the Quick, to a missing and possibly murderous (and mysterious) tenor in The Devil in Music. The excellent plot twists, polished style and pure, old-fashioned good storytelling make these wonderfully readable, somewhat educational, and highly entertaining. Published by Penguin, they're $6.99 each in paperback; unfortunately, Ross died in 1998, so there are no more forthcoming, but these four are entirely self-contained and worthy of addition to the collection of anyone who likes history, mysteries, society - well, almost anyone who appreciates a well-told tale.

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