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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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4.3 out of 5
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  • Crime and mayhem in post-Civil-War Chicago…

    I have read and enjoyed most (all?) of the books in Jeanne Matthews’ Dinah Pelerin series, but haven’t seen a new title in that series for several years. So I was a little surprised to see that Matthews had a brand-new book in a brand-new series coming out in July, 2021. I was fortunate enough to be granted an advance review copy of Devil by the Tail, and I liked it a lot. Matthews starts her new series with an interesting premise: what happens when a Union widow and an ex-Confederate soldier start a detective agency together in Chicago, just after the war? She then adds in some uncooperative former in-laws for the widow; a couple of odd-ball cases that may or may not be related, but almost certainly won't pay very much; and a little (actually, more than a little) corruption among the city’s powerful elite. The result is a thoroughly enjoyable historical mystery. Having myself been an engineer in a time when there weren’t many female engineers, I especially liked watching the widow, Quinn Sinclair, work to establish herself and her business in another field that wasn’t all that friendly to women, even though she was a graduate of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Finally, there’s also a bit of female-male tension between Quinn, who uses the name “Mrs. Paschal” professionally, and her partner, Garnick, to liven things up. One small disclosure: I’m always a bit biased towards historical mysteries, especially when they are in a time or place that is new to me, and post-Civil-War Chicago, with all its energy, and all its flaws, was certainly a new setting for me. But even without my natural bias, I found Devil by the Tail to be a well-written mystery with engaging characters, and I hope there are more books to come in the series. I tend to be quite sparing with five-star reviews, so for me, a four-star review is a solid “read” recommendation, and that’s what Devil by the Tail gets. And my thanks to publisher DX Varos, and to NetGalley, for the review copy.

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  • Enjoyable Mystery

    1867 Chicago. Mrs Quinn Sinclair aka Mrs Paschal, widow of a a Union soldier has teamed up with Garnick, an ex-Confederate soldier to form a detective agency. At the moment they have two cases, but there are it seems, connections between them. Can they solve the cases while their lives are being threatened. An entertaining well-written historical mystery with its likeable main characters. A good start to the series.

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  • Love the Historical Details!

    Set in bustling and raucous Chicago in the nineteenth century, this book is about more than "merely" murder and greasing palms. The author also includes historical details such as the coverture law, ambrotypes, role of the night soil workers and the massive Cosby's Opera House. In an era when the majority of women are homemakers, detective Quinn takes people off guard and I think she enjoys their discomfiture! Her colleague Garnick recognizes the need for a woman's presence and skill set so they are complementary. When murder rears its ugly head, they investigate and no area in Chicago is off limits, including unsavoury gambling houses and brothels. But when it appears someone wants Quinn out of the way, the investigation intensifies. Deceit, danger and secrets are rife. My favourite aspect of this book is the history injected into it. I'm not particularly fond of one of the relationships as it does not feel convincing. But the writing is lovely and the details got and kept my attention. My sincere thank you to D.X. Varos, Ltd. and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this arresting book.

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  • Historical Mystery!

    Devil by the Tail is a historical mystery set in Chicago in 1867, two years after the end of the Civil War, and author Jeanne Matthews gives readers an intriguing look at the post-war activity that occurred during that time. In this story, crime is rampant and young private investigator Quinn Sinclair finds herself involved in murder, dirty politics, and two apparently different cases that may actually be connected. Quinn, also known as Mrs. Paschal, is aided by Garnick, a former Rebel prisoner of war, and it appears that their business partnership is about to take on a more personal element.  Matthews teases readers with clever hints and clues, as she challenges us to solve the mystery ourselves. We are also shown that preconceived notions can  color our thinking about people and their professions. Devil by the Tail is an entertaining story with engaging characters, a thought-provoking plot, and just enough romance to make it alluring! I received a copy of this book from the author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. There was no expectation of a positive review. These are my own thoughts.

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