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The Body in the Ice: A dark and compelling historical murder mystery (The Romney Marsh Mysteries) Kindle Edition
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The story’s setting has all the charm readers are looking for in an 18th century English murder mystery. Romney Marsh, on the English coast directly across the Channel from France, is a hotbed of smuggling and French spies as one would expect at this period, which enhances the story’s dark feel and plot complications. The historical details of the period are nicely incorporated, and I appreciated the maps and diagrams at the front of the book that help the reader to envision the lay of the land. A complex network of relationships pulls readers into the story, but also conceals dangerous deceptions and intrigue.
The main character is Reverend Hardcastle, although I didn’t realize that at first. Because Chapter 1 is in Amelia Chaytor’s point of view, I expected her to be the main character and amateur sleuth and was initially disappointed when I realized that she’s for the most part peripheral to the action, at least in this volume. There were several instances of head hopping in the first few chapters as well, mainly to describe Mrs. Chaytor through others’ thoughts. Surprisingly, she remains somewhat enigmatic as what we learn about her is more often through the descriptions of others than through to her own actions and thoughts. In one instance she receives what I would think to be important information but neglects to tell Hardcastle, inexplicably waiting to inform him until he drops by her house days later. This is balanced later by a couple of well done scenes of heart-pounding action in which she acts with a deliberation and determination that live up to other characters’ estimation of her.
These minor objections were easy to overlook due to the story’s strength. I like that both Hardcastle and Amelia are dealing with personal issues that make them appealingly vulnerable. The secondary characters are nicely portrayed with realistic plights and motivations. The Body in the Ice is an intriguing murder mystery full of twists and turns that kept me turning pages, wondering what happens next. Judging from The Body in the Ice, this series will appeal greatly to fans of both historical fiction and mysteries, and I highly recommend it. I’ll be looking forward to further installments.
It was wonderful to be back in the company of the irascible Reverend Hardcastle and the ingenious Mrs Amelia Chaytor as they attempt to discover the identity of the frozen body in the icy pond of New Hall on Christmas Day 1796 and why they were murdered.
Hardcastle is now the Justice of the Peace which has curtailed his drinking and his argumentative nature somewhat but then when his sister turns up unexpectedly to stay at the Rectory he becomes his usual grumpy self. One of my favourite scenes is when she invites Mrs Chaytor for tea and they act like two adversaries checking each other out. Brilliant writing!
The desolate and empty New Hall is at the centre of this story, the murder was committed there, a family return to live there after many years away, some of them involved in the Americas War which caused a family feud. Why have they returned now, is it connected to the dead body, and what secrets does the New Hall contain?
Rev Hardcastle and Mrs Chaytor try to find all the answers by coming up against old foes, old acquaintances, lies and secrets.
They make an unusual and unlikely team but it really works. You don't need to have read the first book as this is a standalone story.
This was an enjoyable and clever storyline, slow suspense with twists and shocks and surprises with great characters, lots of historical detail and even a dog called Rodolpho that was one of the stars of the story.
I can't wait for the next mystery with the Hardcastle and Chaytor duo.
Also, I must just mention how I love maps of areas in books and this had not only a map but a floor plan of New Hall and a family tree. So useful to refer to and which added to my enjoyment.
This book has twists and turns and wonderful characters that pull you in to the story. At times I literally felt as though I was there seeing/hearing each character. I was drawn to Ms Chaytor, a strong woman who brooked no nonsense and was forthright with her thoughts (unlike most women of that era). I enjoyed the beautiful scenery and the authors prose was spectacular!
It's quite rare to find a historically accurate book that depicts a murder that eventually gets solved. This book is much better than any Sherlock Holmes novel! By the way, I wasn't sure till the end who had killed the person in the ice. It is a fascinating book and I will definitely be looking for more from this wonderful author. Wow... you really need to read this book if you like mysteries. Even if you don't like historical fiction, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by this book!
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