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Ratings and Book Reviews (4 5 star ratings
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  • Entertaining Mystery

    December 1835. While covering the fire at Hatfield House, reporter Charles Dickens is given a four month old baby called Timothy Dickens. The childs aunt, Madge Porter, convinced that Dickens is the father. Back in London, while out caroling he and his friends witness a man, Jacob Harley, fall from a second floor window, complete with chains around his neck. The house is owned by his business partner Emmanuel Screws. Dickens investigates but this will only be the first death, what could be the possible motive. An enjoyable mystery, a well-written story with its very likeable characters. A good addition to the series.

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  • A novel way to look at Dickens

    December 1935. Charles Dickens works as a journalist for the newspaper of his fiancée’s father and is working on his first novel “Sketches by Boz” When he is out in Herefordshire, reporting on a fire that wrecked the local mansion, he’s approached by a young servant girl. She tells him that her sister worked for the marchioness and is dead now. This sister had a baby and he is the father. She hands him the child and disappears. He’s shocked as he’s never been in the vicinity before and certainly didn’t father any child. He doesn’t know what to do and plans to find the real father. For the time being, he takes the infant with him to London and asks his friends William and Julie to look after little Timothy. Afraid that his fiancée and her family will misinterpret the situation, he hides it from them. It’s almost Christmas time and one night when he goes carolling with his fiancée Kate and his other friends to raise money for the mudlark children, they witness a body with chains around the neck fall from a 2nd-floor window. The unfortunate victim is Mr Harley and the house belongs to the unpleasant Mr Screws. They own a countinghouse where a Mr Cratchit works. (Notice how similar the names are to those of the main characters in Dickens’ Christmas Carol) When the body goes missing and the man’s ghost pays him a visit, Charles suspects foul play and he starts to investigate the case. He needs help from his girlfriend who’s most interested in this new mystery. This is the third book in the series and unfortunately, I missed the first two. This book stands completely on its own, although there are references to things that happened in the earlier books. The colourful cast of characters are already well-known from history and in front of the book is a list of ‘personae dramatis’. I always like that and more authors should provide this service. I like the premise of Charles Dickens as a detective; he was a journalist in real life so, what’s the difference with investigating things for an article? He’s been portrayed very much as a child of the time he lived in with very preposterous ideas of what’s becoming for a ’gently reared female’. It’s great to read an old-fashioned mystery from before the age of CSI and DNA, even fingerprinting wasn’t recognised. Do you feel nostalgic sometimes for a time of a simpler and more prudish mentality? Where are the days that thinking about a woman’s knees was thought indecent? We don’t have to return to those attitudes, but the other extreme that we see today with chirurgical enhanced body parts into the indecent extreme isn’t necessary for me at all. So while I do enjoy the quaint expressions of time-relevant sentiments and opinions, I don’t necessarily agree with them. I shake my head in disbelief for a newly widowed woman that’s not allowed to leave her house, and certainly not to attend the funeral or interment. Kate says to Charles that it is unnatural for a wife to kill her husband -and although there are more wives killed by their husbands than vice versa- history is full of evidence to the contrary. And I personally know several women who’d gladly strangle their husband at times. We meet a more gentle-hearted Screws than the later Scrooge is. Kate is the first to recognise his better side. He was a genuine friend to the late Harley, who’s seen here as the real cold-hearted scrooge. Also, his attitude towards caring for his nephew’s widow and for Harley’s son, speak louder than words. About the mystery itself, it’s well-integrated and there are actually 2 of those. However, the case concerning the baby was a little too easily wrapped up. Just like in certain Dickens’ books, in the end, a stranger turns up to explain the whole matter. I had a fairly good idea who was the murderer but shifted in my suspicions as the story cast its shadows on several suspects all in their own turn. It’s well put together and pleasant to read. It’s very interesting to see how the author integrates the original Dickens’ story with her own imagination and mystery. I assume that this is the case for the other books as well. So, I’m really interested to read more of this series. I thank Kensington Books and Netgalley for a free copy of this book and this is my honest, unbiased review of it.

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  • Loved it!

    1835, amateur-sleuth, journalist, London, historical-novel, historical-places-events, historical-research, historical-figures, historical-setting, history-and-culture***** It's 1835 and Charles Dickens is a journalist, amateur sleuth, and an engaged man. While on assignment in a town he has never visited before a young girl gives him a baby (Timothy Dickens) who she says is his and that the mother (her sister) had died in the recent destructive fire. This truly puts him in a fix as he has to get back to London. He houses the skinny little baby with friends and hopes that his fiancee will not find out about it until he can find the baby's real father (good luck with that). While caroling in the street, the small group of friends are present when a man named Jacob Harley falls to his death from the second story of his business partner, Emmanuel Screws. Charles then begins the complicated process of following the clues, red herrings, perilous incidents, and disturbing interactions to solve the question of who was responsible the death. Good read! I requested and received a free ebook copy from Kensington Books via NetGalley. Thank you!

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  • A holiday cozy with a young Charles Dickens

    Thanks to Kensington Books & Netgalley for a digital copy of this book. All comments and opinions are my own. When I saw a description of this book I couldn't wait to read it - a mystery with Charles Dickens as a young amateur detective! The premise of this fictional story, which takes place during the Christmas holidays in Victorian London, is that the mystery Charles solves is the inspiration for his classic A Christmas Carol - one of my favorites. Although this was the third in the series of A Dickens of a Crime mysteries, it's the first one I've read and was easy to follow without having read the earlier novels. The only complaint I have is the characters and plot points based on Dickens' classic were predictable - names slightly changed (Jacob Harley for Jacob Marley, Mr. Screws for Mr. Scrooge, a ghost, a baby boy name Timothy, Bah Humbug!) Charles is a likeable character and at this point is still a wanna-be novelist while making his living as a newspaper reporter. He is engaged to Kate Hogarth, who is living with her parents until the wedding, and assists him in solving the mystery of a man who appears to have been pushed out of a second story window, with chains around his body. I especially liked the recreation of the Victorian era - the horse-drawn carriages, the food and drink, the morals, the clothes, and customs. Despite two murders, and being set in the cold of sooty London, this is a light, holiday cozy with a happy ending.

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