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3.0 out of 5 stars The conjurer, 27 Sep 2014
Clare O'Beara - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Conjurer (Martha Beale Mysteries) (Paperback)
Set in and around old Philadelphia, this book doesn't hesitate to explore the poverty and misery of the day. Cloth mills and the Derringer factory are big employers, and some people scheme to make fortunes by supplying piped water and gas to these workers' homes. The prison flushes out sewers every two weeks so the stench is unbearable.

This is a crime tale, however, and I did find it hard to focus on the disappearance of a wealthy landowner or the murder of a young prostitute, when we constantly get other strays and waifs taking up the story and then disappearing. Martha Beale who is the daughter of the missing man, has been gently raised but decides to start doing good works in order that the police and authorities will keep up the search for her father, who is presumed drowned. Appropriately she begins her works at the orphan home. This starts her involvement with the city's poor and those who prey on them.

I find the present tense awkward and can only suppose that the author has used it in order to bring the past to life in front of us. Some of the characters are based on her own past family members, she tells us, and so far there are three books in the series.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Series with potential., 12 July 2014
Liz Wilkins "Lizzy11268" (England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Conjurer (Martha Beale Mysteries) (Paperback)
Publication Date: Available Now from Open Road Media.

Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy via netgalley

An heiress breaks free of social conventions and attempts to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance in 1842 Philadelphia in Cordelia Frances Biddle’s first Martha Beale mystery.
When her father fails to appear for lunch at their country estate, Martha Beale knows something is wrong. The family’s faithful dogs discover Lemuel Beale’s hunting rifle by the river, but there is no sign of the millionaire financier. Refusing to believe he is dead, his daughter—and sole heir—begins a discreet investigation with the help of the mayor’s aide, Thomas Kelman.

This was a fairly intriguing historical crime mystery, to be honest however I was a bit up and down with it. Certain parts of the story had me hooked – the sense of time and place, a womans’s role in that place and Martha’s attempts to break that and track down her father are all well done and the ambience surrounding the society of the time is authentic. However, I wasnt really fond of Martha as a character – I found her annoying a lot of the time – although to be fair, as we reached the end of the story she did come into her own a little bit more, the journey she took often had me shaking my head.

The mystery element IS well done for sure – although the heart of the book can be found more in the society portions of the novel – and I was compelled to find out what was what. As this is the first book in a series I will be very interested to see what is next for Martha. If the author can keep her character moving forward, I can see this developing into an interesting series and one which I would like to keep up with.

A solid 3* read with the potential to become much more.

Happy Reading Folks!
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The Conjurer (Martha Beale Mysteries)
The Conjurer (Martha Beale Mysteries) by Cordelia Frances Biddle (Paperback - 10 Jun 2008)
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