- File Size: 1287 KB
- Print Length: 162 pages
- Publisher: Carina; 1 edition (September 19, 2016)
- Publication Date: September 19, 2016
- Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01JY7H6ZG
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,329 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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A Proposal to Die For (A Lady Alkmene Cosy Mystery, Book 1) Kindle Edition
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You have to believe I would look up a name like Alkmene. At least to figure out how to pronounce it. I was pronouncing it all wrong the whole way through. Apparently she is the mother of Heracles but is also an apple, which fits in with her father being a botanist.
Lady Alkmene, age unknown. If it mentions it in the book, it didn’t stick, but I’m assuming she is in her twenties in the twenties. Her father is off somewhere chasing rare plants leaving her to her own devices, which probably isn’t a good idea. His idea is for her to get married but doesn’t actually do anything about it.
Jake Dubois is a man of dubious reputation. A journalist with a dark past hinted at. This is the first conflict set up between them, a lady and a tramp…er…person of the lower orders without provenance.
Our heroine has insatiable curiousity, is rather bored with her circumscribed life and is presumably quite clever, like her father but without the antisocial bits. So naturally when she overhears something a little odd, closely followed by the death of a person mentioned in the conversation, her brain immediately leaps to murder. As you do.
I’m a heavy duty fan of Golden Age mystery writers. I have read Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers numerous times along with all the other major Golden Age mystery writers. I have watched every episode of Poirot and all but the Geraldine McKew versions of Marple. Giving her a salacious past and changing the identity of a murderer in order to incorporate a quite unnecessary same sex couple in the canon was quite the last straw for that series. The recent Tommy and Tuppence series “Partners in Crime” is also far too flexible with the original material. Seriously, if it ain’t broke…
So you can see that writing a cosy mystery set in that era that would meet with my approval was going to be a hard ask. I was willing to give this one a try on the basis of the rather nice cover and an intriguing blurb.
First of all, this is going to be a series, so it owes more to Miss Fisher and Amelia Peabody in structure. There is a major crime to solve but also loose ends to carry over. There is also the relationship between Alkmene and Jake. I would have liked to see more chemistry between them but perhaps it’s wise to hold back if we have to build it up over a series arc. I’m going to be seriously disappointed if we don’t get a satisfactory romance out of this eventually. Freddy had better not be a distraction.
The dialogue was also a little stilted at times. Not enough contractions. I found myself stopping and trying to read it out loud with a posh accent to see if it helped. I don’t think it did and it made the beginning a fairly slow start.
The mystery. This actually worked quite well. The progression was fairly logical, if rather convenient at times. The skillsets of Alkmene and Jake were complimentary and they worked well together. I can see future collaborations doing well as they learn to trust each other. I will be interested in reading further to see how this develops.
Overall, a fairly lightweight mystery with some potential for future development. It was a little uneven but as a debut that isn’t unexpected. I could see it working as a rather fun TV series with the whole BBC costume drama thing happening.
Thanks to Carina UK and Netgalley for the ARC
Whether or not you completely enjoy this debut novel in a new series set in England in the 1920s will depend on how much of a stickler you are for historical accuracy and feel. And so often it's the small things that can jerk me right out of the historical moment and cause me to become distracted. While it was technically correct for an unmarried woman's name to be written as Ms Steinbeck (yes, I researched it), simply by referring to her as Miss Steinbeck would have kept the feeling of the time period better, at least for me. Likewise there is a scene where Lady Alkmene joins a group at a table in a tea shop consisting of a Russian princess, her servant, and a journalist and yet Lady Alkmene is never formally introduced to him. I was 47% into the book before the man's first name was mentioned in the novel. Once again, these may be small things, but anything which pulls my attention out of the time period greatly influences how I feel about a novel.
This novel is a clash of classes. Jake Dubois is a socialist and Lady Alkmene is a member of the British peerage. The novel spends a lot of time working out how they feel about the English class system. Lady Alkmene doesn't have much character development so I'm afraid I spent more time being annoyed by her than being impressed. The mystery isn't very complicated and the discoveries came a little too easily for the intrepid investigative duo. What was it about these two that made people confess all just from being asked a question? The implausibility factor was too high for me to be overly enthusiastic about this detecting combination. Maybe the second novel will have seen our main characters develop more depth so they are more interesting. The cover art, by the way, sets the tone I think the prose was lacking. It's a lovely cover and caught my attention immediately.
the story is wonderfully written, with well-developed characters and an interesting point. I love the time period and the setting. The main characters pull you into the story and definitely left me wanting to read further adventures.
I've already downloaded book 2!
Most recent customer reviews
From page one we are right into the story with really loveable characters -...Read more