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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

The Vanishing Thief (Victorian Bookshop Mystery #1)

The Vanishing Thief - Kate   Parker

The first in a new series centring around Georgia Fenchurch and her participation in the Archivist Society, a (somewhat) secret group that focuses on privately investigating crimes for anyone in need during the reign of Queen Victoria (the later years, I believe).

 

First let me say, if you pick up this book, don't read the acknowledgements first.  The author states up front what she's taken liberties with and one of those things sort of gives away the killer - at least it did for me.

 

Inadvertent spoilers aside, I quite enjoyed this book.  For some reason I kept thinking about The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  Don't ask me why; there's really no correlation.  In The Vanishing Thief we meet 6 of the Archivist Society members as they investigate the disappearance of a thief and blackmailer at the behest of a frantic woman.

 

This brings Ms. Fenchurch in contact with Lord Blackford, her first suspect and eventually romantic interest (of the "we're-from-different-worlds-and-can-never-be-together variety).  Lord Blackford proceeds to interfere/assist/rescue as the story progresses.

 

I like Georgia; she's strong, independent, smart and a bit mouthy (for the age).  We learn a lot about her in this book, and about Lord Blackford too, but the rest of the Archivist society are still a bit unknown.  We learn their backgrounds (which are very nicely interwoven into the story) but their personalities don't really get a chance to assert themselves; I assume we'll learn more about each in future books.

 

Hovering over the entire book and this investigation is the mystery of the man who murdered Georgia's parents over a decade earlier.  She's vowed to find him and bring him to justice.  This was the only sour note in a very enjoyable book; if I had to hear about her grief and her guilt at not saving them any more I'd have thrown the book.  The author brings it up often enough that it's harping.  I have no objection to having a series-long mystery arc, but please leave the over wrought emotional angst behind.

 

The more immediate mystery plot was really well done;  so many red-herrings, possible suspects, old mysteries, and new revelations, that even though I sort of had the plot spoiler at the beginning, it wasn't immediately clear who was responsible for what.  As it all came together, it became much clearer to me, but I'm not sure it would have had it now been for reading those acknowledgments.  Just a really well done plot/story.

 

The book ends with allusion to the mystery concerning her parents' murder and indicating it's to be a bit of a cat/mouse type of game.  At this point I could take it or leave it, but maybe it will suck me in over the course of future books.