Friday, May 22, 2015

What I Read in December Part V . . .

What I Read in December Part V . . .

Death Comes to the Village (Kurland St. Mary Mystery series, #1)Death Comes to the Village by Catherine Lloyd--Regency Mystery

Major Robert Kurland was wounded at the Battle of Waterloo and for several months he's been cooped up in his home near the village of Kurland St. Mary attended by his faithful butler and batman. One night he wakes to the moonlight streaming in his window and at the risk of his health, he moves to the window where he thinks he sees a mysterious figure carrying something heavy. He wonders what's going on but knows his servants will think he's crazy if he brings it up. He turns to the only person he can trust with this knowledge, his childhood playmate, the vicar's daughter, Miss Lucy Harrington. Lucy doesn't want for sense and she doesn't treat him like a child. If there's anything mysterious going on in the village, she'll know about it. Lucy Herrington, spinster, has spent half her life caring for her widowed father and younger siblings. Her father spends more money and attention on his horses than on household matters. Lucy also does her duty as vicar's daughter visiting the poor parishioners. She's surprised when the normally taciturn Major asks for her help but when she is eager to help, especially once she discovers a rash of petty thefts in the village and two missing local girls, one of whom is her maid Mary.

The subject matter of this story was rather darker than I expected from a cozy mystery. It's more mystery than cozy mystery despite the country village setting. The story takes place after the Battle of Waterloo and the hero is a wounded soldier. The mystery starts off a little slow but picks up about halfway and then I stayed up too late because I couldn't put it down. There are some red herrings along the way but I figured out whodunnit before the characters did, but only once the final clues were dropped. I didn't really care for the darkness involved in the mystery which made me rate the book lower than I would have if it had been lighter. Also, the writing is good but not spectacular. The language is very modern - Georgette Heyer this is not. There's very little actual humor in this story. It needs some secondary characters to provide comic relief. Aunt Rose is fun but not enough. The ending is so abrupt and vastly unsatisfactory! The period details are very good though. There's enough detail so the author didn't need the 1816 heading in the beginning of the book. I love Merlin's Mechanical Chair - it's very steampunk!

I really liked the heroine, Lucy. She's not your typical milk-and-water Regency miss nor is she a modern woman inserted into a Regency novel. She has ideas about what she wants that are in keeping with gender norms of the time. She's forthright and managing which makes her an appealing character for a modern reader. I felt really bad for her being stuck in such an intolerable situation. Her father is the true villain of the story, being an old-fashioned clergyman who can not empathize with his eldest daughter. My heart truly broke for Lucy.

Robert is an interesting character. He's from the gentry but his mother was from trade and he considers himself a soldier above all things. He's typical of an alpha male who is sick and confined to bed. I really like his character growth in the story. I think he has potential to be a great man.

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