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A Mortal Curiosity (Lizzie Martin Mysteries) Hardcover – August 19, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Granger's engaging second Victorian mystery to feature ladies' companion Lizzie Martin offers a more compelling plot than its predecessor, The Companion (2007). Martin accepts a short-term assignment to attend to young Lucy Craven, who's recently lost her newborn daughter, in Hampshire, where Craven lives with two maiden aunts while her husband is abroad on business. Martin's beau, Insp. Benjamin Ross of Scotland Yard, worries about the situation, and his fears prove well founded when the local rat-catcher, Jed Brennan, is stabbed to death soon after Martin's arrival in Hampshire. Craven's conviction that her baby hasn't died raises concerns about her sanity, and disturbing reports of her early years make Martin suspect she had a role in Brennan's murder. While the lead characters may be less than memorable, fans of Anne Perry's Thomas Pitt series will find much to like. (Aug.)
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From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—In good Victorian melodramatic fashion, the characters here are thoroughly unambiguous in moral terms. Told in turns by almost-30-year-old Elizabeth Martin of The Companion (St. Martin's, 2007) and Scotland Yard plainclothesman Benjamin Ross, with whom she is "walking out," the story involves a 17-year-old who refuses to believe her newborn baby is dead, the formidable aunt who runs the seaside manse where she is living, an itinerant rat-catcher who is murdered in their garden, a psychiatrist, and sundry household servants and villagers. Miss Martin is on hand to be companion to the young mother and sends for Sergeant Ross in response to the murder, both because she would like his comforting presence and to spare the household the unseemliness of having to reveal any of their secrets to policemen who may be less discreet. Manners rule the household more forcefully than civility, and Granger has fun creating characters who are simply foils for others' barbs. Teens with a yen for Victorian historical fiction will find this their cup of tea.—Francisca Goldsmith, Halifax Public Libraries, Nova Scotia
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Series: Lizzie Martin Mysteries (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (August 19, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312363524
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312363529
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,480,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In Ann Granger's "A Mortal Curiosity," twenty-nine year old Lizzie Martin leaves London and her beau, Inspector Ben Ross of the Metropolitan Police, to take a position on the south coast of England. She has been hired by a wealthy importer named Charles Roche to serve as a companion to his niece, Lucy Craven. Miss Craven, who is only seventeen, lost her baby shortly after its birth, and is disconsolate. While her husband, James, is on an extended business trip in China, Lucy lives in Shore House with two maiden aunts who offer her little comfort or sympathy. Ben does his best to dissuade Lizzie from leaving, but he knows that "once Lizzie's mind is made up, it would take something really extraordinary to shift it."

During her stay in the country, Lizzie meets a number of unusual characters: Dr. Marius Lefebre, a doctor who specializes in diseases of the mind, is visiting the Roches, ostensibly to keep an eye on Lucy; the two maiden aunts, Christina and Phoebe Roche, are remote, stuffy and reclusive; Lucy Craven is a pretty and insecure young lady with a volatile temperament. A series of puzzling events convinces Lizzie that not everything in this place is as it seems, and when a murder occurs, she is relieved when Ben Ross is called in to investigate. He and Lizzie team up to find out what is really going on behind the respectable façade of Shore House.

"A Mortal Curiosity" is entertaining and fast-paced, with lively dialogue, delightful humor and irony, and an engrossing and suspenseful plot. The author alternates points of view between Lizzie and Ben Ross, a device that works surprisingly well. Lizzie is an outspoken and independent woman, whose insight, imagination, and keen powers of observation make her an excellent amateur detective.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 31, 2008
Format: Hardcover
`A Mortal Curiosity' starts in 1864 with Lizzie temporarily leaving London to be a companion to Lucy Craven, a niece of an acquaintance of her aunt. Mrs Craven is staying with two elderly sisters at Shore House in the New Forest while recovering from the tragic death of her baby. There are concerns for Mrs Craven's sanity as she denies that her baby is dead. In short, Lizzie has a challenge in front of her which quickly becomes more complicated when a rat-catcher is found murdered in the grounds of Shore House, and Lucy is discovered beside the body.

Finding out who killed the rat-catcher and why is only one of the mysteries in this novel. Inspector Benjamin Ross, of Scotland Yard, becomes involved and he and Lizzie, with the assistance of others including the interesting Dr Lefebre, solve the various mysteries. One of the joys in this series is the juxtaposition of 19th century sensibilities and values with the relative freedom that Lizzie Martin enjoys by virtue of her relatively fluid position in a hierarchical society. This novel touches on too much of the underside of Victorian society to be neatly classified as a `cozy' mystery.

This is the second of Ann Granger's mystery series to feature Elizabeth (Lizzie) Martin and Inspector Ben Ross from Scotland Yard. While it is not essential to do so, I'd suggest that any new reader start with the first book (`A Rare Interest in Corpses') to obtain a clearer sense of Lizzie's background and circumstances as well as her knowledge of and understanding with Inspector Ross. I enjoyed the novel and, no, I did not work out all of the mysteries before the end. I have only just discovered this author, and I'll be looking to read her other novels as time permits.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on August 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In 1864, Aunt Parry obtains a position of temporary companion for her almost thirty year old by marriage niece Elizabeth "Lizzie" Martin. Clipper ship owner Charles Roche is worried about his teenage niece Lucy Craven whose husband is in China on family business while she recovers from having given birth only to have her baby die a couple of days later. Currently Lucy is staying with her much older spinster Aunts Miss Christina and Miss Phoebe. He also sends his friend Dr. Lefebre, an observant alienist, to check on the emotional well being of the distraught Lucy whose aunts insist she is deranged.

At the Shore House in New Forest in Hampshire, Dr, Lefebre is welcomed by the aunts as a special guest while they literally look down their respective noses at Lizzie, who makes it clear she is unafraid to speak her mind though to herself she admits it looks silly as the two aunts are well over a head taller than her. Still she makes it clear that she is there as Lucy's companion. As a gentleman farmer seems to be courting the married Lucy, someone murders the traveling rat catcher Jethro Brennan. Worried for Lucy's safety as well as her own, Lizzie sends for her boyfriend, Metropolitan Police Detective Inspector Benjamin Ross; he drops everything to come immediately.

Readers will feel they are in Victorian England mostly by the sea away from London as Ann Granger provides a vivid look into the manners of a bygone era. The murder mystery comes deep into the tale turning the story line smoothly from a historical novel into a police procedural with a superb final twist that reminds the audience it is 1864 Hampshire (though some will insist it could be 2008 DC with the last spin). Mostly told from Elizabeth's perspective, fans of the period will appreciate this fine mid ninetieth century English whodunit.

Harriet Klausner
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