Stoker & Bash: The Death Under the Dark Arches Kindle Edition
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- File size : 4414 KB
- Print length : 436 pages
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Publisher : Selina Kray; 1st edition (October 26, 2020)
- Publication date : October 26, 2020
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B08LDSY61T
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #568,125 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Provided he lives long enough to take his final bow.
While Kray has never once failed to deliver an outstanding and compelling mystery for Stoker, Bash, and their closest associates, Han and Callie, to solve, she has dialed up the danger and intrigue to another level in this novel, in large part because rather than them going in search of the mystery, and subsequent peril, this time it comes to them, aggressively and relentlessly. Clues and riddles and bald-faced threats keep the men wrong-footed while dealing with a cast of actors, some of them viable suspects, who are each adept at playing their roles.
Hieronymus Bash is as bold and charming as ever in this installment of the series, Timothy Stoker as focused as one would expect from a detective inspector of his caliber. If Tim’s investigative prowess sets the stage, Hiero commands attention from his audience—all the world’s a stage in a literal sense for the man who is on, as he claims, his fourth life. They complement each other in the investigative sense, but there are still challenges they face on a personal front. The past comes back to haunt them throughout this investigation, and the matter of trust in their relationship becomes an obstruction, albeit a momentary one, in the case, adding another layer of friction to the overall tension. Simply put, the romantic suspense in this book is on point.
The romantic arc of the series is, as always, exceptional, passionate, and heartfelt, but readers are treated to an additional side of longing in “Dark Arches”, which I want more of, please. Han Tak Hai and Calliope Pankhurst are the fiercest allies and colleagues, and are a part of the little family Hiero has spent years building, and now growing, but there are deeper emotions at play between them as well, unspoken for the myriad ways in which it could go wrong, but a new proposal from Callie means I hope we’ll be seeing much more of her and Han working side by side.
Altogether, this book is a little slice of perfection. The mystery is the ideal blend of creepy and dangerous, and the play’s the thing in which Kray captures the suspense along with the sweeping romance we readers of this series have come to expect from Stoker & Bash.
As a reader, I can’t overstate the pleasure to be found in Kray’s writing. At this third installment in the series, the meticulous planning and masterful craftsmanship show on every level. You see it in the solidly researched, beautifully written historical backdrop and in the meticulous character development, which allows not readers not just to chart backstory and evolution but also to see the levels of complexity at the heart of each individual-- who they were, but also how they’ve changed, or failed to change, due to catalysts both distant and recent. I love the balance in focus we’re offered as well: the way the spotlight shifts sometimes to Heiro, sometimes to Tim, sometimes to Callie or to Han, makes it easy to see the multiple perspectives as they overlap and diverge. Callie and Han are breaking my heart. I hope for more for them, and soon!
Tim and Heiro also have a tendency to break my heart, albeit for far different reasons. I love the evolution of their relationship, and I can see how far they’ve come as a couple, and as individuals. Their dynamic is always shifting, in terms of the balance of power but also what each needs from the other. I can’t deny that the interplay of improv and planning, spontaneity and substance generally works well. Except, of course, when it doesn’t. And when it doesn’t, it feels like it’s always Tim who gets hurt. (without specific spoilers, prepare for that to happen big time in this book) Because Heiro is, on his very best day, a lot. At numerous moments, I was reminded of one of Tim’s thoughts on meeting Heiro in their first adventure -- that there wasn’t much real personality behind all the flash, that there was, in essence, only the actor, looking for a next role, and that Heiro himself might not know who he really was. Which is not great, really, because roles are made to be played, and then put aside. They’re not genuine. So it was disheartening, but not surprising, to see that even now, a year into their association, to see Heiro himself thinking about his relationship with Tim explicitly as something he’s acting out: “With Kip he had been made new, into someone Heiro himself was till becoming acquainted with. But in his heart of hearts, he welcomed the change. He sensed it would be the role of a lifetime.” The distinction between acting and being is something that Heiro doesn’t seem to have worked out. Tim is all painful sincerity, and Heiro, so far, defaults to performance. This can make it hard, at times, to share Tim’s faith that he’ll turn out to be worth it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Heiro, but for 90% of the novel I desperately wanted him to work harder. He got there eventually, but in his own sweet time, which is, to be fair, pretty much his whole deal.
I received an ARC of this book and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Hiero and Tim are still recovering from their last adventure, when a ghost from the past comes knocking at the door. Unable to resist a riddle, and one that blatantly defiles his most special place, the theatre where he forged his career, Hiero sets to uncover the masterful mind behind the game while corpses of once beloved friends pile up. But this enemy seems to be a step ahead, and Hiero finds he’s putting in danger not only his life, but those of the ones that have become his family…
This was such a good mystery! With a masterfully designed plot, it twists more than once to create a delicate labyrinth where friends turn into foes and deception is commonplace. It had me hooked from the start, but not only because of the intrigue. The relationship between the characters are elaborated and convoluted, and I am not only talking about the main characters, who tread a fine line, but also about Han and Callie… I love the implications of their not-there relationship. Even the villains are morally blurred, and we kind of understand the reasons behind hideous acts…
In short, a riveting story this one
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review
Top reviews from other countries
Definitely my favourite in the series. This investigation has all the best bits out of the three so far – from its Phantom of the Opera inspired plot line, to the seedy underbelly of Victorian London, to S&B cementing their relationship.
The Prologue isn’t a Prologue as such, it’s a sneak peek further into the book, which usually drives me nuts when it’s a contemporary romance, as it gives away an element of the relationship.
However, here it’s used as a very clever “flash forward” to a pivotal moment in the narrative which acts more as a trompe l’oeil for the brain than the eyes, as all is not what it seems.
The actual plot is inspired by the best gothic melodrama, taking its cues from the mysterious theatre ghost and a devious enemy who not only hides in the shadows, but taunts at our erstwhile heroes in the hopes of luring Hiero’s alter ego back to the stage.
This one’s also quite violent and a fair bit gruesome, so bear that in mind as you set off reading, it’s a no holds barred exploration of the lengths someone insane would go to for revenge.
I absolutely LOVED it and couldn’t put it down from the moment I started reading until I finished it approaching midnight.
The usual crew are all out in force too and my heart broke a wee bit for one of them, no spoilers being revealed here, but it also rejoiced because Kip and Hiero are stronger than ever and this one’s just as steamy as the previous two!
Their bond is tested though, not only because of the nature of the case, but because of their disparate personalities and a sense of dread hangs over the whole investigation.
It all comes to a hugely dramatic final 25% which, in the best mystery/suspense tradition, has action galore as well as revelation after revelation, twisty plot turns and gasps of shock as the gang becomes embroiled in a fight for their lives under the Adelphi Arches, a cesspit of depravity near the banks of the Thames.
So, hopefully enough excitement for you to pick up this most brilliant series, without me spoiling any of the skilfully woven elements of surprise which Selina is so absolutely perfect at.
This series is right up there for me as among the best detective/melodramatic homages, and I cannot wait for book four because I bet there’s going to be tears before bedtime for me with that one!
And, as ever, the cover by the wonderful Tiferet Designs, is fabulous and, as I noticed, Kip now appears more flame haired than on the last two 😉
If I had a slight nitpick, and it’s totally me being pedantic, I wish the spellings for this London-set book had followed English not American, we have Us in our Colour and we drink Whisky not Whiskey (unless it’s Irish) but that’s a minor point and it never really spoils the book.