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The White Crow (Beacon Hill Mysteries (Doubleday)) Hardcover – Mar 2002

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Books; 1 edition (Mar. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385496389
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385496384
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 2.7 x 21.7 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,410,903 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
a straight forward read but rich in ambience 23 Mar. 2002
By tregatt - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I'm always torn whenever I read one of Cynthia Peale's Beacon Hill mysteries -- on the one hand I love the manner in which Ms Peale brings the Boston of the Victorian period to life with all it's prissiness and it's snobbish double standards. And I also like the manner in which she depicts all her characters, both secondary and primary -- you really get to see all the different facets of the different characters. But I also find myself ready to spit nails at the attitude of the men in these book towards the women. And here, much as the feminist in me wants for Caroline Ames (the charming and amiable heroine-detective of this series) to really administer a swift kick in the seat of the pants to her supercilious older brother, Addington (preferably so that he takes a fall down the stairs), I have to admire Ms Peale's accurate portrayal of the social mores of the period, and admire her courageous stance. It would be only all too easy to write about a sister and brother team that we modern readers would find more sympathetic and accessible. However Ms Peale has given us a detecting hero (Addington Ames) who is snobbish and priggish and a little narrow minded, as well as a detecting heroine (Caroline Ames) who even as she sometimes chafes at her brother's attitude towards her and all things modern, is still a product of her upbringing, and who is NOT one of the crusading Amazonian feminist that the Victorians feared so much.
Hoping to make 'contact' with their dead mother, Caroline Ames decides to secretly visit the medium, Mrs. Sidgwick (Caroline has to keep this visit a secret because she knows that her brother would disapprove and probably forbid her from attending the seance). The seance however turns out to be a disaster: not only does Caroline fail to make contact with her mother, but she also becomes a suspect when philanthropist Theophilus Clay is murdered while the seance is in session. As much to protect his sister from the police, as well as because an old friend of the family requests him to investigate the matter, skeptical Addington Ames finds himself delving into matters paranormal. And no one is more surprised than he when things take a distinctly dangerous turn when this current murder investigation suddenly leads him to back to another painful episode from his past, and an old enemy who feels that he has a score to settle with the Ameses...
While I did enjoy reading "The White Crow," I must own that mystery-wise it was an incredibly straightforward read, and that the mystery plot did unfold at a rather sedate pace. Ms Peale seemed to pay more attention to the subplot dealing with the blossoming relationship between Caroline and the Ames's lodger, Dr. Mackenzie, which was something I didn't mind at all as I'm rather partial to Caroline, and welcomed any plot deviations that dealt with her. So, here's my opinion: read this book on a drizzling evening (this novel was meant for exactly that kind of weather) and enjoy it for it's rich and vivid imagery, and for it's charming heroine.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Another fine installment in the Beacon Hill series... 24 July 2002
By Mark Savary - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Part of the charm of the three novels in the Beacon Hill series is that the environment is spot on. One should never attempt to write characters into an historical environment without first doing some basic research, and Ms. Peale has this angle very well covered. The mystery the author has contructed is also very interesting, involving the major fads of the day (both spiritualism and the telephone). Once more, Ms. Peale brings Victorian Boston to life in a vivid and appealing fashion.
There are some weaker moments, however, which are rather distracting. The late-night confrontation between Ames and the villain is pure melodrama, and for all of the action, it is actually rather disappointingly pedestrian. The same could also be said for the climax.
Just to nitpick, there is also at least one somewhat minor error regarding how to survive when immersed in cold water. A character thinks the only way to survive it would be to swim furiously, but doing so will bleed off far more body heat than you could possibly generate, leading to hypothermia (pretty much what happened to many of the Titanic's passengers). But, the character's thinking was in keeping with the times in which the story is set, so we may easily overlook this goof.
Since so much more of the novel works then does not work, I think it would be fair to say that this is a very good purchase, especially for those of us already hooked on the characters. The characters make natural progress in their world, evolving and becoming even more and more natural (Addington pursues the elusive Serena Vincent, while Dr. MacKensie is even so bold as to finally ask Miss Ames to go walking in the park!). The entire question of spiritualism is deftly handled, neither overly favorable of the practice, or overly critical. The characters are delightfully "in character," as it were.
One can only hope that the series will move beyond a mere trilogy. It would be quite unfair of Ms. Peale to offer us such interesting characters and not allow us to continue to share in their domestic worries, social dramas, and criminal investigations.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I hope not the last 3 Aug. 2008
By S. R. Schnur - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the third of a series called "Beacon Hill Mysteries." They have all been good, but this is the best of the lot. The late Victorian age was a time when science was stretching into the technology of daily life, and the very air was alive with possibility. Boston, on the other hand, had a stultifying rigid caste system. Despite a great admiration for science, those who experimented too much stood the chance of becoming "ruined" and no longer being accepted into polite society.

Our characters in this mix are Addington Ames, the middle aged and stuffy older brother of Caroline Ames, thirty six year old spinster, and their boarder, Dr. MacKenzie, invalided from the Army by a Sioux bullet. The characters are beautifully drawn and set solidly in their period with no anachronistic issues.

The first book in the series is "The Death of Colonel Mann." The second is "Murder at Bertram's Bower." Each book is better than the last. I am looking for more.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Superb third in the series, I loved it! 27 Aug. 2003
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As usual Cynthia Peale did not disappoint me! And I am so glad. I enjoyed The White Crow as much if not more than the first and second books in the series. Her characterizations are excellent (and not just the main characters!), the plot is entertaining and well-planned, and the way she captures old Boston at the turn of the century is nothing short of brilliant. I feel that I am there learning about what Boston was really like. To find this atmosphere of a Boston past in a modern-day book is amazing. I am eagerly awaiting a fourth in the Beacon Hill series. Please!
Boston, 1890s 23 Aug. 2009
By Lyn Reese - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When the lights go on during a seance held by the society medium Mrs. Sidgwick, philanthropist Theophilus Clay is found to have been murdered. In attendance, and indeed sitting right next to him, is Caroline Ames who with her brother, Addington, is drawn into solving this murder, and the subsequent deaths and threats to their lives.

Caroline is given little to do in this story given the social limitations on a well bred Boston Brahim woman. The plot's action falls instead on her brother and their border, Dr. MacKenzie. Readers also may lament the fate of those of Caroline's class who have fallen beyond the bounds of propriety set by Boston's chilly social class.

The book's historical background is better served. Numerous Boston personalities appear, in particular William James and Isabella Stewart Gardner. The growing threat to Yankee power by the Irish community is touched on, as is the onset of a new age initiated by inventions and technologies, including plans for an underground railroad. One new household devise, the telephone, plays a key role in the story.

Peale also takes us on wonderful treks through the Boston streets, gardens, waterways, cemeteries, restaurants, clubs, and Beacon Hill homes. A tour today of the Victorian era Nicoll house (home of Rose Nicoll, suffragist, international peace supporter, and first female U.S. landscape designer) can give you a feel for Caroline's residence.

This is one in the Caroline and Addington Ames Beacon Hill series.
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