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Judith Flanders is a well known author of history books about the Victorian period but, with this novel, she has changed direction completely, writing a contemporary crime story. Having enjoyed her previous works, I was interested to see whether this change would be a success and, I am happy to say, that she is obviously as talented as a novelist as she is as a historian.

Samantha Clair is a "middle aged middling-ly successful" editor at Timms & Ross. She is, in fact, the kind of woman who run successful publishing offices. Her authors are not generally the kind of literary successes who win awards, but those who write `women's fiction' or gossipy books. In other words, the kinds of books which pay for all those respected literary works to be published, usually at a loss. When we meet Sam, she is having problems with two of her most popular authors and their new books. Her bestselling, and star author, Breda McManon, has changed direction and Sam hates her new novel . She also has concerns about the legal implications of Kit Lovell's (fashion journalist, author and friend) highly contentious new manuscript about a Spanish fashion designer; including financial irregularities and the possible cover up of his murder.

Sam likes a quiet life. She has recently broken up with her partner and enjoys living in her North London apartment, the company of her neighbours and her work. She muses that, "I only feel great when I'm lying on the sofa reading a book, possibly while simultaneously eating biscuits," which is a point of view I can sympathise with totally. In fact, Sam is an extremely likeable heroine who, despite her unwillingness to enter into an adventure is a loyal friend. When Kit goes missing, she is determined to discover his whereabouts, along with her intelligent and super efficient mother, Helena, and Inspector Jake Field. What lengths will someone go to to make sure that Kit's novel does not make it to print?

This is a fun, intelligent and witty crime novel. It has a great plot, excellent characters and a setting which will appeal to all readers, with a sharp and satirical look at the publishing industry, plus a humorous side trip to a Paris fashion show. I sincerely hope that Judith Flanders will make this a series , as I would love to see Sam involved in some more crime solving.
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on 22 April 2014
I was intrigued to read this as I was already a big fan of Judith Flanders - author of Consuming Passions, and the book about the Victorian passion for murder (widely assumed to be the source of the TV programme, though uncredited). And I wasn't disappointed. I liked her creation of a somewhat waspish, spinstery heroine with some good dialogue and well-sustained attitude. And I liked the setting, in the world of publishing. The plot was enough to keep my interest with some nice twists. Overall, I was glad to have read this, but my real feeling is that Judith Flanders is still finding her voice and will get better and better.
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Sam Clair is an editor in a publisher's office. She loves her job but just at the moment she is concerned about an author who has disappeared when his recently submitted manuscript may lead to legal action and another author has written something which she believes to be unpublishable.

Detective Inspector Jake Field appears in her office to ask her if she was expecting a parcel from someone as the courier delivering it has been killed and all his deliveries stolen. What had been a minor annoyance - a missing author - soon turns into something deadly serious and involves Sam in an escapade which puts her physical safety at risk.

I really enjoyed this book with its many twists and turns and its background in publishing. Sam is a likeable character with a nice line in sarcasm and I thought her mother, Helena was marvellous too. The book had me chuckling over Sam's estimation of her own abilities and her barbed comments on other people and the world in general. If you want a crime novel which will keep you guessing and with plenty of humour then try this one.
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on 20 April 2014
I admire the social history books of Judith Flanders, in particular The Victorian House. However, this first novel, while entertaining me also had me baffled for I found the plot extremely convoluted; I simply could not follow it (or am I very dim?) I liked the character of Sam Clair and her would-be paramour, Jake-the-policeman, although I thought the liaison rather unlikely after such a brief meeting. On the plus side I think there is scope here for a series, set against the backdrop of the world of publishing. The writing is, I think, meant to be modern and quirky, but I felt at times the author was trying just a little too hard in this respect.

I would like to correct one small error and that the county of Devon isn't referred to as "Devonshire." It is simply Devon. "Devonshire" is an adjective which might describe a cream tea, but it is not the name of the county.
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on 15 February 2015
Just started reading this book and absolutely loving the writing style and observations. It's fast paced and the dry sense of humour is very uplifting. Don't know about the plot yet but really enjoying the story telling and will be reading more by this author. Love it!
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on 16 April 2015
As a fan of Judith Flanders historical books, I was interested to see how she would tackle detective fiction, another one of my favourite genres.

Too often recently I have been interrupted in the enjoyment of a book by bad writing - stilted dialogue, characters doing improbable things, books set in the past and then introducing anachronisms but very quickly I realized there would be no such problems here, I could simply settle down relax and enjoy the story confident that the characterization, dialogue and setting were all pitch perfect. And it was funny.

I enjoyed it so much that I immediately downloaded her next book A Bed of Scorpions despite having set off on holiday well stocked with new fiction to read.
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on 25 February 2015
This is the first novel from Judith Flanders. I loved the great insight she provides into an otherwise largely unknown (for me) world of publishing. It’s so detailed because as I later found out she has a background in publishing, and so I now do feel that I gained some insight and not just what someone thinks happens. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book along with the main character she has created, who I really grew to like, so much so that I would love her as a friend if she existed in real life.

Although the book is in essence a whodunit/murder mystery it is in my opinion a great story told very well. There’s also a little romance thrown in and a Mother who always knows best - and can prove it being a lawyer.

There are a few side stories running also around the publishing theme and authors and I found this aspect particularly interesting.

A great read if you like a mystery with a twist and can identify with a 40 something would be lady sleuth. I'll certainly be looking out for more fiction by this author.

My thanks to NetGalley and St Martins Press for supplying me with an advance e-copy of this book to review.
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on 18 May 2014
Middle aged editor as detective works authentically well. A tad long but not over erudite and some really good book moments - funny or witty or feel good. Really enjoyed the glimpses of professional british life in a way that never took itself too seriously.
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on 13 April 2014
Wish the author had just concentrated on the world of publishing, as that was was entertainingly written - the plot however is clunky a and almost an add on...Entertaining but not a page turner
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on 18 February 2015
Not for me!

Sam Clair is a middle aged editor turned investigator. She investigates the disappearance of Kit Lovell, a fashion journalist and one of her favourite authors. Kit has written a "tell all" book on the life and death of Rodrigo Alemán, Spain's most prominent fashion star. This clearly upsets some people leading to Kit’s disappearance and Sam taking up the investigation to find out what’s happened to her. The story is set in London with some odd trip to Paris.

I have to be brutally honest and admit that I could not follow this story at all. Reading it reminded me of sitting chatting to a friend who just rambles on about everything and nothing with no clue that you're yawning and not following anything she's saying. -Nancy Drew

Rating: One Star. was provided with a copy for review.
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