Friday, March 23, 2012

Book Reivew: The Deathly Portent (A Lady Fan Mystery) by Elizabeth Bailey

In the past few months I have been the
gratified recipient of handful of
soon-to-be-released mystery novels. 
Mostly "girlie" mystery novels 
set in Georgian England and America 
(hint: American Revolution-ish). 

Historical fiction has always held a dear place in my heart, 
and so it seemed like a good way to break 
into mysteries - a genre I had thus far avoided. 
I was right. It was a comfortable fit.

The Deathly Portent, by Elizabeth Bailey, 
may be the last historical mystery I read... for a while.

Don't get me wrong - Bailey's latest mystery 
is a rollicking good time starring a sweet, rich, 
clever but rather naive English lady 
with a knack for identifying sneaky murderers. 

The elaborate cast of characters, 
a town full of suspicious English-folk, 
would be enough to please a fan of Dickens. 

The book has all sorts of intrigue. 
Gruesome murders, adultery, 
hidden riches, forbidden love, 
witchcraft, a sexy young pastor, 
dashing aristocrats, 
an overly-tragic heroine 
and more than a hint of lesbian lovers.  
What isn't to like? 

My problem with this novel is how slowly it progressed. 
This 359-page adventure might have 
benefited from shaving off 100 or so pages. 
This book's solid plot was dragged along for far too long.
There was too much wishy-washy 
yammering drivel for my taste,
and I'm one of those gals who 
enjoys a good group of gossiping ladies.
Some passages were far too wordy to enjoy, 
stretching each sentence until they bulged, 
overburdened with big words and and lacking in focus. 

(The same could be said for my writing,
but I'm not trying to publish this, just post it on a blog!)

By page 188 I was confident that I knew who 
the murderer was, witchcraft. 
I was confident that I that the
plucky detective, Lady Otillia Fanshawe, 
would come to this same conclusion
by interrogating this suspect's maid. 

On page 288, I still believed myself to be true. 
The plot, however, had barely progressed in those 100 pages.
It wasn't until the very end that my suspicions were proven.
I was right about the murderer and the way in which
Lady Fan would figure things out.

If I weren't so stubborn I would have 
cast this book aside and moved on to something fresh.

I was right about the murderer in the end, 
much to my chagrin. I had hoped that there 
would be some sort of mind-blowing plot twist. 
Elizabeth Bailey is an English writer to be respected and celebrated.
She's published about 20 novels, taught writing, directed plays,
and I'm sure that this one novel should not reflect her talent or career.

In the future I would probably peruse another 
installment of the "Lady Fan" series
but until then I need to cleanse my palate.

Some recommendations:
The India Black Series by Carol K. Carr
When Maidens Mourn by C.S. Harris

The Deathly Portent
by Elizabeth Bailey
Berkley Prime Crime Trade Paperback Original.
Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Disclaimer: This book was received as a free review copy.

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