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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read for fans of detective fiction and historical drama alike
I'm not a big fan of the whole bonnets and frocks obsession that seems to run through a great deal of both TV and literature and I tend to steer clear of historical dramas of both kinds because it seems for me to get bogged down too easily in eye candy of the sartorial kind. I have about as much fashion sense (or interest for that matter) as a whelk so I am wary of period...
Published on 26 Sept. 2011 by Mrs. Vivienne Tuffnell

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3.0 out of 5 stars Good plot
The beginning of a new series with a well devised plot, likeable characters decently created, a good plot with plenty of twists and turns. I'd reccommend it to lovers of the genre (Victorian period, murder and rakes)although it has too many typos which ruined the flow of the story and it is more for a feminine reader as in some points it verges on the too romantic. The...
Published 21 months ago by lovereading


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read for fans of detective fiction and historical drama alike, 26 Sept. 2011
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This review is from: The Butchered Man (The Northminster Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I'm not a big fan of the whole bonnets and frocks obsession that seems to run through a great deal of both TV and literature and I tend to steer clear of historical dramas of both kinds because it seems for me to get bogged down too easily in eye candy of the sartorial kind. I have about as much fashion sense (or interest for that matter) as a whelk so I am wary of period fiction as much of what is written seems to spend what feels like weeks describing precisely how fetching someone looked in their new gown.

However, I like a good murder and the more brutal, the better. I've grown tired though of the complex and confusing contemporary murder lit, where the star of the show is forensic science and every one else is a bit part player. So finding Harriet Smart's The Butchered Man was a real treat.
Combine the best of CSI logic (though set in a time when virtually all the science we take for granted is unknown), the characterisation quirks of Brother Cadfael, and a dash of Film Noir and you have a thoroughly enjoyable romp through an old fashioned murder mystery with twists and turns enough to keep armchair detectives guessing. There's deep motives at play, some of the very deepest but in some way what endears this book to me most is the relationship that grows between the two main characters. It's masterfully done, steering clear of the typical father-figure mentoring it could so easily have slid into, and steering equally clear of the somewhat suspect bro-mance scenario a lesser writer would have gone for. This is a partnership of equals, but the men themselves struggle to accept this and watching their struggles to work together is adds a frisson of conflict and friction to the mix and stops it getting too cosy.
If you're a fan of detective fiction then you'll probably love this tale. If you love historical dramas, then I suspect you'll also love it too. Lovers of bonnets and frocks will be happy enough too, though there wasn't so much that people like me started yawning.
So if you fancy a taste of something a little different from your usual fare, then pick up a copy of The Butchered Man.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book Review: `The Butchered Man' by Harriet Smart, 2 Jan. 2011
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Y. Johnston - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Butchered Man (The Northminster Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
`The Butchered Man' is a historical detective story set in the fictional city of Northminster in 1840. It opens with the arrival of Felix Carswell M.D., the newly-appointed police surgeon to the City of Northminster Constabulary whose Chief Constable is one Major Giles Vernon.

Within hours of Felix's arrival, a dead and butchered body has been found and so begins what is a truly page-turning detective story told from the viewpoints of Carswell and Vernon. With these protagonists, Harriet Smart has created a pair of detectives that I hope to see more of in the future. They move between the lofty dwellings of the senior clergy in the Minster precincts, through the homes of the affluent trades-people to the outskirts of the city where prostitutes solicit and drunkards brawl.

Both Vernon and Carswell are likeable but flawed characters and it is the roundness of the characterisation which makes this novel so good. I would have liked to have read a little more of the back-story of Vernon but I suspect that is being held back as further Northminster Mysteries are planned. I do hope this will be the case as this has definitely left me waiting for more!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! Couldn't put it down!, 11 Jan. 2011
This review is from: The Butchered Man (The Northminster Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I only downloaded this book three days ago but I've finished it already. I literally couldn't stop reading it, I was gripped straight away! I found myself loving and hating characters as if they were real people, and even though I read a lot of books like this, I was guessing the outcome right to the very end. I hope there'll be more books featuring this duo, it's a long time since I've been so enthralled by something that I've had to read it by torch-light so as not to disturb my sleeping husband!!! Wonderful!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gripping read with a great sense of place and time, 15 Dec. 2011
This review is from: The Butchered Man (The Northminster Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I like crime books that are more about the atmosphere and characterization than the actual crime itself, so this was perfect for me. The two "detectives" are compelling and entertaining characters surrounded by a rich supporting cast and immersed in a clearly drawn world. The prose is so clear and consistent that you don't even notice the chapters zipping by. I am really looking forward to more books in this series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Potential for a good Series, 17 July 2012
By 
Annie W "bookworm" (Aberdeenshire, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Butchered Man (The Northminster Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
'The Butchered Man' introduces the police surgeon, chief constable and sundry others of the recently-formed Northminster Constabulary, and the town it supports. The leading characters have pasts which are gradually revealed as the story progresses, and their personal circumstances influence their conduct in the murder investigation. The plot is very skilfully contrived, and the various individuals and their families who come under scrutiny are very well drawn, each having distinct personalities and characteristics which reflect their status in the society in which they live. It is to be hoped that many of these will figure in future stories, as they all come across as real people, with their own principles, moral beliefs, cares, and difficulties, and they deserve to be continued.

The story has depth, and is beautifully woven together, so that I didn't mind when I worked out fairly early on in the narrative 'whodunnit'. I wasn't totally convinced, either, that the Major would be so indifferent to the slights of his Watch Committee in not offering him a chair when meeting with them, but that's only an opinion. What was a little distracting, however, was the number of minor grammatical and spelling errors (when will authors/proof-readers remember that a floor of a multi-level building is a 'storey', with 'storeys' as the plural), as well as the much more maddening 'missing word syndrome'.

Despite these minor gripes, I really look forward to the next in this series. Many thanks, Harriet Smart.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good old-fashioned detecting, 17 July 2012
By 
Sarah Hague (Montpellier, France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Butchered Man (The Northminster Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
What a breath of fresh air this novel is, with its back to basics detective work, through necessity rather than design. In the 1840s forensic medicine was in its earliest infancy so detectives had to unpick and unravel a crime scene, working blindly in many cases through lack for forensic eyesight.

The story of the butchered man takes us beyond forensics and into the murky world of love and relationships - jealousy, hatred, money and sex. It's all in there, in an era when the right people expected to be taken at their word making it even trickier to get to the truth.

An excellent read, well-written and enjoyable, with fascinating characters and interesting interpersonal relationships, if you like a good murder and dedicated detectives, you'll love this book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good plot, 13 Aug. 2013
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The beginning of a new series with a well devised plot, likeable characters decently created, a good plot with plenty of twists and turns. I'd reccommend it to lovers of the genre (Victorian period, murder and rakes)although it has too many typos which ruined the flow of the story and it is more for a feminine reader as in some points it verges on the too romantic. The bad editing gives it a three star.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Most enjoyable, 21 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: The Butchered Man (The Northminster Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Thoroughly deserves the 4 star rating I've given. A story much involved and extremely well written. I like all the characters and was impressed at the way the author let you build a picture of each. A cunning plot with unexpected but non the less intriguing twists. A mystery set in a time when our outlook on what is right or wrong made solving the problem even more difficult...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, 30 Dec. 2012
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I really enjoyed everything about the book - the plot, characters, the style of writing etc. The book kept my interest throughout and although the ending of the story was predictable, I would still recommend this books to others. I look forward to reading future Northminster Mysteries.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a good thriller, 23 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: The Butchered Man (The Northminster Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
a definite page-turner. Sherlock-Holmes type mystery, with believable characters and an intriguing plot. Well written and well presented. One of those Indie Books that proves indie writers are good writers
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