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on July 30, 2015
A fun read read for the most part and I'll probably read the next in the series. I'm usually a big fan of the whodunit type mystery. This is not that, as the culprits are almost certainly known from the beginning, but the how and why and other details of the story told along the way are quite interesting. The only aspect of the story I did not like (and rather dreaded), were the romantic fantasy tangents the lead character whould take throughout the story. (I did not care to be reminded repeatedly of his his desire to see another character naked, etc.) These episodes we not often (and yet once would have been too often) and usually brief, but they detracted from the otherwise steady flow of narrative and plot.
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on December 27, 2015
I rarely award a 5-star book review -- reserving those for the best of the best, amazing books that truly move me or the occasional gem that makes it to my list of all-time favorites like Atlas Shrugged or To Kill a Mockingbird. While The Heiress of Linn Hagh (and the 2nd book, The Sans Pareil Mystery) don't quite hit those thresholds, they both deserve 5 stars in their own right. Charlton wrote not one excellent mystery, but two. They are, by far, among the top 5 mysteries I've read in the past few years, and I hihgly recommend them to anyone who enjoys mystery books. When I purchased this one, I expected it to be a fairly predictable, simple mystery (not sure why, but that was my expectation). To my pleasant surprise, it pulled me in and kept me reading late into the night. Both novels are intriguing, engaging and feature a surprising number of plot twists. This case, in particular, has one piece that makes it seem impossible to solve (how did the heiress get out of her locked tower bedroom?) The characters are intelligent and likable. Anyone who likes mysteries should read both of these books. I can't wait to read more from this author!
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What a great start for what is a new author and series for me. I love her writing style -- straightforward, descriptive, well developed characters, etc. Lavender seems to be a cross between Sherlock Holmes and MacGyver. He's exceedingly smart, well educated and perceptive, but not particularly 'people adept'.

I love the relationship between Lavender and Constable Woods. They are friends, but it seems much more than that -- almost father/son. Woods is the 'people person'. He's one of those good natured, affable kinds of people who has never met a stranger. People instinctively trust him and talk to him easily.

As a principal investigator for the famed Bow Street Runners, Lavender is often called to various parts of England to solve cases that local investigators cannot solve. As often as possible, Lavender takes Constable Woods with him.

An heiress is missing -- from a room that is locked from the inside. Her uncle contacts Bow Street and Lavender and Woods are sent to Northumberland to solve the mystery and find the heiress.

It doesn't take them long to figure out that there is more going on than just a missing heiress. There is true madness and evil at Linn Hagh and more than one victim. The mystery is sort of gothic in nature - brooding like Wuthering Heights.

I've seen a number of questions about the accuracy of the Bow Street runners scenario's on other reviews. I was questioning at first as well, but the author includes her research and information at the end of the book in the Author's Notes section that are really interesting. Seems there REALLY was a principal investigator named Lavender and some of the stories seem based on actual cases from that time.

Some people may find the writing style a little dry -- sort of like the old Dragnet series on TV, but I enjoyed it thoroughly and can't wait to start the next one.
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on August 13, 2016
I only started to read this book because I didn't have time to start a new series, and I didn't think I would be continuing beyond book 1. What a pleasant surprise to enjoy this book so thoroughly. I loved Detective Lavender and Constable Woods. Their relationship and the dialogue was well written and humorous. The mystery held my interest from beginning to end. I loved the relationship between Lavender and Magdalena and thought it was poignant and sweet. I just finished book 2 and am looking forward to the next book that is due on August 30. Karen Charlton is an excellent writer and I plan to read all of her books. I didn't want to start a new series, but her books are too compelling for me to stop now.
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on June 29, 2017
This is the first book of a relatively new series of period-piece British mystery novels. It is well written and entertaining. The book’s story is placed in the first decade of the 19th century in England. It is centered around the work of the somewhat enigmatic police detective Stephen Lavender and his jovial side-kick, Constable Ned Woods. They are based in London, but not infrequently they are sent into the English hinterlands to solve particularly difficult crime mysteries. In the example of this book, they are sent north into rural Northumberland. The author has done an excellent job of researching the time and place settings for her story, and she writes in a captivating style which is sprinkled with now archaic English words, which were in common usage 200 years ago. With more lucidity and realism than most, the author does not gloss over the unpleasantness and challenges of both urban and rural life in pre and nascent industrial societies of our forebearers. For example, she refers to the smells and health risks associated with large amounts of animal feces in urban streets and markets when most transport was horse drawn, and the pollution of the Thames River. The writing employs a pace and complexity which holds the reader’s attention, and for me at least it became a real page turner. A personal quibble with this book is that I thought that the tangential referral to Lavender’s love interest was an unnecessary diversion, which distracted from the quality of the central story. However, subsequently, I have been somewhat chastened, as it turns out the woman plays a central role in the next book in the Lavender mystery series. This book is a good contribution to the genre of period-piece British mysteries.
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on January 2, 2017
I wasn't sure at the outset that I would like this book, set in England in 1809. The author's use of the common vernacular of the time put me off initially, but I came to actually appreciate her efforts to be realistic. London detective, Stephen Lavender, and his constable, Ned Woods, have accepted an assignment to search for a missing heiress in northern England. What a cast of characters they encounter along the way as they travel by coach and four, and when they arrive at their destination. This book has it all: the heiress's loving aunt and great-uncle who are trying to find her, the evil step-siblings who may or may not be involved with the disappearance, the colorful local folk who hang out at the tavern where Stephen and Ned are lodging, and even a band of gypsies thrown in. Lavender's investigative intellect reminds one of Sherlock Holmes, and Woods contributes to their efforts as well. I was able to predict some of this tale's ending, but not all of it. If you enjoy a period piece of intrigue, mystery, and some drama thrown in along the way, then you will enjoy this book. Although I was doubtful at the start, I rated this novel 4 stars and have already started the sequel, The Sans Pareil Mystery.
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on December 4, 2016
I was so satisfied after reading this book that I am writing my first review. As a lifetime mystery fan, I had abandoned the genre because each story felt like a rework of previous work. But this story line drew me with the well fleshed out and colorful characters, realistic historical background with an interwoven love story. Some of the abuse is not for the faint of heart and was difficult to read, but necessary for the story telling. For any one who likes historical drama and mystery...
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on August 28, 2016
This book had an excellent plot. The author kept the action going and left enough clues so that the reader could guess some of the outcome. However , the book was riddled with historical inaccuracies. First of all she used the expression "stake out" when Constable Woods was doing surveillance. This expression didn't come into existence until the 1940s. Another issue is the missing heiress' fortune. Her grandfather was described as a man of "vast interests", but her fortune was only £10,000. That wasn't a pittance, but it wasn't remarkable either. In Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, Mr. Willoughby jilted Marianne Dashwood for a woman with £50,000. Willoughby's income of £600 per year from his estate was inadequate to the lifestyle he was leading as a bachelor. The interest on £10,000 would be between 400 and 500 per year, depending on how it was invested. There are other examples, but I won't make this into a laundry list. Suffice it to say that I won't be.buying the next book in the series.
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on August 11, 2016
This book had so many surprises. The characters were not easy to figure out (I really like that - they weren't boring!). I've always enjoyed books set in the 18th century. As another person reviewed, the setting is authentic. Some books supposedly set in the 18th century are there in name only, as the author puts today's morals on the characters in their books. That's always a disappointment, but in this book I was gratified that they follow the mores and morals of that century. A fun, interesting read! I can't wait for the next book in this series.
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on February 12, 2018
May I only give it 5 stars? I'd like to give it at least double that - I LOVED it! I could not put it down and stayed up way too late this past weekend to finish. GREAT mystery - wonderful characters - historical facts fascinating - just a GREAT read. I absolutely cannot wait to read the others! I read virtually only mysteries - and I read a lot of them - historical being my favorite. This was excellent. Great research as far as I can tell, and a really intriguing set of people involved in making this a terrific series.
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