- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 13 hours and 46 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Tantor Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: February 14, 2017
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01NAZHJY3
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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A Lady in the Smoke: A Victorian Mystery Audiobook – Unabridged
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Although this is a debut work, Odden is not new to the writing business, frequently contributing essays, chapters and introductions to books and journals. This mystery appears to be a labor of love which she began 10 years ago and is finally sharing with us. And, more good news, she's presently at work on another novel, about a Scotland Yard Inspector in 1880.
This story takes place in 1874 Britain. As it begins Lady Elizabeth Fraser and her mother are returning to their home in Scotland after an unsuccessful season in London. Lady Elizabeth remains single and they discover that a vicious rumor has been circulating that her dowry no longer exists after a financial setback. The train they are traveling on derails, killing or injuring several passengers, among the moderately injured Elizabeth and her mother. It's important to note that this is only the most recent in a series of such serious railway accidents.
In the aftermath of the accident, Lady Elizabeth becomes acquainted with railway surgeon Paul Wilcox, who stitches up her forehead and looks after her mother and tirelessly takes care of the seriously injured almost single-handed (with a little help from Elizabeth, who tries to do so as anonymously as possible).
The rest of the story deals with suspicions about all these railway accidents, financial problems of the railways, possible manipulation of the stock market, wheeling and dealing both political and financial, murder, sabotage, investigation into all this by Wilcox and his newpaperman friend (and it must be noted that Lady Elizabeth inserts herself into all this as much as she can and perhaps more than she should, given the constraints upon women in society, but she does have a personal stake in this). At the same time Lady Elizabeth is finding out some secrets about her mother and father that had been kept from her for years.
All this makes for interesting and even challenging reading, with lots of information about Victorian railways and financial scandal and also about medicine and conflicting opinions about treatment for patients, especially those with railway accident injuries. It appears that the author has done some in-depth research on the subjects and also adds her author's notes at the end, which is something I always appreciate in a historical novel. (I only have one minor nit to pick and it will probably seem a silly one: There is a character in the book named Sir Lewis Solmes. He is frequently referred to as Sir Solmes. That should actually be Sir Lewis, since the title Sir is used with first names. Since he plays an important part in one important section of the story, the references to "Sir Solmes" began to grate on me. If it had been just a one time thing I would have ignored it and forgotten all about it. --- ETA: According to the author, she has now corrected this error. I am assuming that anyone who now downloads the book will read about Sir Lewis, not Sir Solmes.--- )
I enjoyed reading this. It's a fairly complete mystery, with personal relationship secrets entwined with the railway mystery elements of the story. And, for those who enjoy a bit of romance too, we have that for Lady Elizabeth, even with a bit of a romantic triangle. I'll be on the lookout for her next book about Scotland Yard.
By the end of the book i was a bit more enthused to see where the next book takes me, tho i if it takes that long to get into it i doubt i'd even finish it. this is my favorite genre and i read a lot of this type of storey so maybe i've just gotten picky in my old age.
A Lady in the Smoke has all the elements that I usually enjoy in a Victorian mystery; a feisty and determined heroine, a well-crafted setting and good characterization. However, in this case, I found myself bogged down in the details of the railroad conspiracy and it didn't hold my interest. I liked many things about the book, but in this case, I can only give it a "like", not a "love" rating. Thanks to Random House Alibi and NetGalley for an advance digital copy in return for an honest review.
RATING- 3 Stars