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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable intro to a new series
This (longish) short story is an introduction to amateur sleuth Emily Castles, who will be featuring in a mystery series.
In this story Emily is going to a Bonfire Night party at a neighbouring house, hosted by the inhabitants who are performance artists of various sorts. Emily is mourning the recent loss of her dog and sees the invite as an opportunity to socialise,...
Published on 7 Feb. 2011 by TopCat

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Great story, but lacks detail
I like mysteries, cozy or otherwise, whether they are short-story ones or full-length novels. So, I was looking forward to this.

Three Sisters is a short forty-four-page mystery, which introduces us to Emily Castle. She attends a neighbourhood party in a large house inhabited by a rather flamboyant group of people. This is where a murder takes place and Emily...
Published on 17 Jan. 2013 by Beeshon


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable intro to a new series, 7 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Three Sisters: A British Mystery (Emily Castles Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
This (longish) short story is an introduction to amateur sleuth Emily Castles, who will be featuring in a mystery series.
In this story Emily is going to a Bonfire Night party at a neighbouring house, hosted by the inhabitants who are performance artists of various sorts. Emily is mourning the recent loss of her dog and sees the invite as an opportunity to socialise, but in the course of the evening she finds herself investigating a murder that may or may not have occured.

While we don't learn a huge amount about her background Emily is an interesting, quirky character and I'm sure we'll gradually discover more in the series. Despite the mention of a boyfriend he's possibly in the past, and although she knows her neighbours it is in a typical suburban passing kind of way. She comes across as a slightly solitary but very inquisitive individual. The other characters range from the harassed mum of three to the doctor of ethics via Hungarian performers and form a colourful cast.

From the beginning I was amused by the imagery used, for example describing fireworks as "like Midget Gems suspended mid-rinse in a toddler's open mouth" Comical but very graphic. I was also very pleased to see how well formatted and proofread it was - some of my recent kindle reads have been somewhat lacking on those fronts. I found myself laughing often, and the darker humour as the story progresses is the sort of thing I enjoy but may not be to everyone's taste. Emily's wanderings round the house and gardens as the story developed really drew me in and when I had to take a break from reading I found myself weighing up the story so far and debating with myself about what might happen. In short I thought this was a great read from start to finish and will be looking out for the series.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I want more of Emily Castles, please!, 10 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Three Sisters: A British Mystery (Emily Castles Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I really MUST preface this review with a proud proclamation: I am a huge Helen Smith fan! I have read Alison Wonderland and Being Light and The Miracle Inspector, and I loved each book. I loved Three Sisters, as well.

In Three Sisters, we're introduced to Emily Castles, a perfectly normal woman who just happens to pay a little more attention to what's going on around her than most. This interesting trait leads Emily into the world of sleuthing, and the reader can't help but follow on her heels--wondering all the while what danger she might be getting herself into.

Helen Smith's descriptions are clever, creative and richly-textured, and her dry, understated wit never fails to bring a smile to my face.

I look forward to more Emily Castles adventures!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review from Eva's Sanctuary, 2 Nov. 2011
By 
Eva J. Coppersmith ""vintage vixen"" (Westminster,Md USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Three Sisters: A British Mystery (Emily Castles Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Emily is invited to a bonfire night/Halloween Party at her neighbors down the street. She doesn't really know them because they just moved into the house; but she decides to go because she is missing her dog, Jessie who just died. She finds herself amidst some rather strange characters and to top the night off, she is pulled into a murder. One that no one else believes happened.

This is a short piece of fiction that can be easily read in one sitting. From the get go, you are pulled in with some rather strange and unusual characters. The way the story is presented, I had the impression this was going to be a murder mystery night and some of the guests were the actors. This turned out not to be the case. There is little known about Emily and it is a bit confusing how she will end up being a sleuth. In this particular story, she seems more like a busy body. The story is short; but it packs a big punch with information. The reader must stay focused or will lose their way around in the course of the storyline. I did not actually find anything amusing in this story; but I do look forward to the next one. I suspect that Emily could get herself into some mischief. If you are looking for something fast-paced and unusual, I highly recommend this one.

I wish to thank the author for providing me with a copy for reading and reviewing purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. I was not compensated in anyway except for receiving the book to review.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Emily's first outing is a corkscrew mystery, 13 Feb. 2011
By 
Peter Piper (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Three Sisters: A British Mystery (Emily Castles Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Right from the first page, Helen Smith's story glows like a roman candle: bright, colourful and full of surprises. This is a perfectly formed mystery in every way; each necessary clue is present and followed up, though as you would expect from a well-constructed mystery, there are plenty of false clues and blind alleys. This story is delightful to read on several levels: first there are the descriptions of the guests - Helen's vignettes of bonfire night party-goers are poignantly hilarious; then there is the succession of encounters you might expect at a busy party on bonfire night, where avant garde entertainment is included; and thirdly, the unfolding of strange coincidences and occurrences leading to the 'whodunit'. Even there Ms Smith has introduced an extra twist. This story is a real corkscrew of events, intertwined lives, relationships and clues that will keep you guessing to the end.

The Emily of the subtitle is bruised from having recently lost her dog to old age. Yet the faithful creature somehow seems to stay by her side. Whether a supernatural presence or simply a fond memory, we are never quite sure. In either case, Jessie is as much a part of the mystery and its solution as anything else.

This tale takes a different tack to Helen Smith's previous novels, being a short story of around 17,000 words. Humour is such a personal thing but in my opinion this one has the most intensely funny moments so far. I found myself laughing out loud at the descriptions of some of the characters. There is certainly a wealth of characters here to enjoy, from the smoulderingly attractive to the condescending and, of course, the thoroughly eccentric.

The story is set in one of the many Georgian and Victorian suburbs that exist in London and is most evocative of a life today which is sedate but so often insular. I didn't intend to read the whole story in one go but it was so entertaining and so intriguing, I was unable to put it down. Definitely one to read more than once. I sincerely hope this is the first of many and that Emily Castles will be back to entertain us again soon.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky Murder Mystery, 27 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Three Sisters: A British Mystery (Emily Castles Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I don't normally read short stories so it was nice to get into something a bit different.

Emily is still depressed from the death of her dog, and when she's invited to a Halloween party, she thinks it might be what she needs to cheer herself up. The only problem is the party is like a Murder Mystery night with eccentric carnival performers, and Emily finds herself the unwitting witness to a murder. Or did she? Emily has to unravel the circus trick and find the body.

The style of writing reminded me of novels by Thomas H Cook that I love - serious and slightly old fashioned. The descriptions are vivid and unusual.

Three Sisters is an intriguing story. If you like mysteries, it's well worth giving this a read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Summer Read, 3 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Three Sisters: A British Mystery (Emily Castles Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
This book is an interesting, well-paced cozy British mystery and I really enjoyed reading it. The twists and turns kept me guessing right to the last page, and my only real regret is that the story is not longer. I picked up this book because I read and enjoyed Alison Wonderland, another great mystery by this author. I’ve now already snatched all of the rest of the mysteries by Helen Smith to read during my upcoming vacation.

I won’t go into the details of the plot in this story, since that would be giving too much away, but one thing I really enjoyed was the idea of a play hiding a murder mystery. It reminded me a bit of Hamlet. I also like the main character, Emily. She is very witty and funny, and the author has managed to make her come alive on the page through careful and believable characterization. She’s one of my top 5 fictional detectives now!

Overall, I’d recommend this book to anyone looking for a cozy mystery to read on the beach this summer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Three Sisters, 27 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Three Sisters: A British Mystery (Emily Castles Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Imagine one of the murder mystery dinner shows that are popular many places, only make the murder real with only one person actively trying to solve the crime. In essence, that describes at a very high level the plot of Three Sisters. You have a cast of characters with strange quirks and uncertain allegiances. A murder even the police aren't convinced happened. A house and yard full of potential suspects. Someone has to figure out what really happened. As a short mystery, it all works quite well.

However, as I've found with other books of Smith's, the big picture - the actual plot or storyline - is a relatively small part of the pleasure I got from reading Three Sisters. Instead, it's the way she has of describing people and places. A subtle wit. Generally, just an evocative and clever way she has with words that those who appreciate language will love for its own sake as much as the story.

**Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog.**
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars new whodunnit, 14 Feb. 2011
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This review is from: Three Sisters: A British Mystery (Emily Castles Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
This is a short story to introduce a new amateur sleuth. It is well written and kept me guessing til the end. There was one clue that I picked up early on but was surprised by the way the story actually worked out - plenty of red herrings to confuse me! An unusual and theatrical setting. The story stands out above the usual run-of-the mill mystery novels. Will be interesting to watch this series develop.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Traditional Murder Mystery with a Lovely Old Fashioned Feel, 19 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Three Sisters: A British Mystery (Emily Castles Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Emily Castles seems to have a back story, and part of the beauty of this well written short story, is that we are given little titbits about her, and we have to try to piece together who she is and where she has come from.

She has been invited to a neighbour’s bonfire party, and we are introduced to a colourful collection of characters who are as fascinating to uncover as Emily herself. However, the party takes a more sinister turn, and it is up to Emily, together with another neighbour, Dr Muriel, to prove that something nasty has happened in the garden.

A very traditional mystery, with a slightly old fashioned feel, which I really enjoyed!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Enigmatic Emily Castles, 25 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Three Sisters: A British Mystery (Emily Castles Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
An excellent and richly illustrated short story - so much packed into so few pages.

I must admit that this is my first reading of anything by Helen Smith, and if this is an indication of the fantastic characterisations and depth of descriptions, then I am in for a treat. I loved this!

Emily Castles is a bit of an unknown entity at this point (apart from her dog dying), but I'm sure as this series continues the reader will find out more about her.

Helen Smith is a very clever writer who draws you in from the first page. I am looking forward to reading more in this series, and more from the writer herself.
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