Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Shop now Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars64
4.1 out of 5 stars
Format: Hardcover|Change
Price:£12.08+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

VINE VOICEon 13 April 2014
With this debut novel we are transported back to 18th century London, and in particular to Berkeley Square and Bond Street. This is a dangerous place requiring the presence of a night watchman to protect its people and property. One night Edward Digby, the night watchman on duty finds the slain body of Pierre Renard, a well-known and a highly regarded silversmith.

Despite cultivating a superior persona, Renard was not a popular man and he was not mourned by many. In private he was a cruel sadistic bully and in business, a fraud. His wife Mary suffered the most at his hands, his diary notes at the beginning of each chapter make clear his disappointment of her and his wish to be free of his marriage.

Without the benefit of modern day forensic examination, there is not much of an investigation into his death. The local doctor is also the coroner and only a cursory inquest is held. What then follows is a cleverly constructed story encompassing the many people who were in some way involved with Renard, either through business or his personal life.

This is a very richly detailed and atmospheric story. It has clearly been well researched and the historical detail is fascinating. The characters are superbly drawn, from the widow Mary, who is a shell of her former self after her unhappy marriage to Renard; the night watchman Digby, a man who is not without flaws; a young newlywed upper class couple whose marriage is not all it seems and the silversmiths and engravers who work in poor conditions to produce such beautiful silverware. There were one or two characters who particularly stood out for me - Mary's sister Mallory, a no-nonsense widow and businesswomen and Alban Steele, an old acquaintance of Mary's who comes to London to help his ailing cousin with his silverwork.

This is very much a slow burner of a story which proceeds throughout at a sedate pace. I've always loved history and thoroughly enjoyed the historical detail and vivid descriptions. Little by little the life and secrets of the silversmith Renard, are revealed and suspicion is cast upon those closest to him and those who had the most to gain from his death. Do we ever find out who killed him - you will have to read the book to find out!
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 28 February 2014
I loved this book. It was atmospheric, beautifully written and kept me entirely enthralled throughout. Definitely one of the best debuts I have read.
0Comment|5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 23 February 2014
This was an enjoyable read and the writer clearly has promise. I thought some first book efforts showed through in some "artsy" sentences that while setting the scene were sometimes just too much and too studied and sometimes jumped around and left me dangling for a bit to figure out what was going on. However, I thought there was a great period feel that I appreciated. I have not stumbled across equivalent period books before and perhaps should look harder I will definitely check and see if this writer produces a second book.
0Comment|3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 2 February 2014
I always do like historical mysteries and this one had me guessing. Because at times it pointed towards someone, and then someone else and then I wondered again. In the end I always suspect everyone.

The book starts with a murder. Pierre Renard, a silvesmith, that was not that liked it seems in the end. He leaves behind his wife Mary, she was a wreck of nerves and had not been treated right by him.

At the beginning of every chapter we also get a page from his diary and see what really was going on with him and how much he hated his wife. Yeah, I really did not like hím.

Other Povs are Digby who found the body and investigates who did it. Then there are Mary's sister, the people who worked for Renard, his best friend and new people that comes into the story. Another POV are the Chishesters who commissioned some work from him and they deal with their own issues and his death of course. It all comes together in a fine woven plot.

Conclusion:
Good characters, a nice plot and nicely done murder plot. I enjoyed it.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 3 December 2014
I enjoyed the book, but not as much as I thought I would, given the blurb and reviews. Like another reviewer, I found the issue of "voice" difficult. Who are the main characters with whom we are meant to identify? From whose point of view is the story being told? I thought it was Mary's, but then there was a lot about Joanna, and others.....also their personalities seemed to shift about (is Mary a suffering soul or a bit of a disturbed, cold fish, as implied after her second marriage?). The writing was good, though not compelling and slow in places. I got to the end, mainly because I wanted to find out who killed Pierre (not much of a surprise), and whether Mary lived happily ever after. As a first novel, certainly readable, and I would read another of hers - maybe some of the issues here and identified in other reviews will be addressed.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 10 February 2014
I was really excited to read this book but was disappointed that it didn't grip me as I thought it would. It was still an ok read but I was expecting to be hooked by this story but found it wasn't as exciting as reviews lead me to believe.
0Comment|8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 June 2015
Like pulling hen's teeth. Very boring and non-engaging and yet I feel compelled to read until the end to find out who the murderer is. I often have to read paragraphs twice as I can't concentrate on such boring text well enough to take in the first time. The sub plots aren't that strong. Will be relieved to finish. It's an endurance test!
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 22 February 2014
To be fair, the book is interesting enough to keep a reader turning the pages, or flipping the screen. It portrays its historical context fairly well without shouting; 'hey look what I researched!', a pitfall for many authors of historical novels,and hits upon an interesting storyline set within a specialism which is appealing, that of the silversmithing trade in eighteenth century London. The sense of place and time is maintained quite well and the author is laudably restrained in not 'overdoing' it.

Ultimately, however, the book has two key shortcomings. The first is that the author straddles the genres of historical romance and detective novel, and never quite manages to synthesize the two successfully. This is evident in the careful building of characters who turn out to be largely irrelevant to either the murder, the romance, or the decision making of the main protagonists. The second is the issue of 'voice', which shifts throughout the novel for no particular reason that I can discern. The inner lives and personal histories of many of the characters are explored, sometimes without a clear objective, which prevents the reader from identifying with any of them in any meaningful sense. The identity and motives of the murderer are unconvincing, and left this reader with the impression of having read a really strong draft that needed further discussion and rewrites prior to publication.

So - in all, a mixed bag, lots of promise but never quite delivered is my conclusion.
0Comment|11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 28 July 2015
I did manage to finish the book but it was an endurance test. So much misery & every character a grim, joyless individual. Admittedly the atmosphere was dark & oppressive, presumably intentionally, but this only made me more eager to leave it. A book I was glad to finish & move on from.
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 February 2015
Read this book as a book club member and wasn't for me. Too many characters and I found it a bit boring, couldn't wait to get it finished.
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Customers also viewed these items

£3.85
£7.99

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.