I was not sure if i should try the second outing of Nellie Bly our reporter,feminst and amateur detective who has taken up the challenge to beat Phileas Fogg record of 80 days to go around the world,but i am very glad that i did.It does not take us very long before the race is taking a back seat as we are plunged into a mysterious death that makes Nellie a target for a killer and involves her in international intrigue with the fate of nations at stake.On board the luxury ships the suspects come thick and fast,there`s Herr Van Reich,a gentleman from Vienna,Lord and Lady Warton who had business ties with Von Reich,Frederick Selous a big game hunter from Africa and who is the mysterious woman who has a coffin in her cabin,all this as a killer stalks the decks as magicians conjure the fantasy and a spiritualist raises the dead.Carol McCleary has produced a page turner that took me long into the night, as its builds to a exciting climax as Nellie races East on an Iron Horse.Carol McCleary detail research,along with her passion and humour for the 19th century, bringing to life Nellie and all who cross her path,and i hope we have more of our heroine still to come and very soon please.
Carol McCleary is back with her second book starring investigative reporter Nellie Bly, and once again she's taking us on a thrilling ride over several continents in a whirlwind of adventure, murder, mystery, intrigue and... magic.
In the first book of the series, The Alchemy of Murder, we have been acquainted with Nellie Bly, staunch defender of women's rights, proving that in the 19th century a woman can do any man's job. So naturally when at the end of the book Jules Verne dares her to travel the world in 80 days, Nellie not only jumps to the challenge but sets out to do it in 75.
Once again, this novel is based on a true story, Nellie Bly really existed and she really did travel the world beating the record of Mr Fog as described in Mr Verne's "Around the world in 80 days". Carol McCleary once again masterfully makes use of real historical characters, facts and events to write this brilliant novel full of suspence and intrigue. This time with new characters such as Frederick Sealous, Sarah Bernhardt and many others.
As always Ms Bly has found herself in a spot of trouble, having witnessed a murder in an Egyptian market place that seems to be more than just an issue of violence against the foreign usurpers or an out of hand scuffle between two locals. This foul crime seems surpass Egyptian borders, consisting of a bigger mystery concerning the British empire and espionage, following Nellie wherever she goes whilst continuing her race around the world.
Determined to not only finish her race against time itself and succeed her challenge, Nellie sets out to discover what exactly is going on. An endeavour made difficult by assassins set out to silence her, pompous aristocrats thinking she's nothing but an overly hysterical female attention seeker, boat officials being less than cooperative and several other events which I shan't go into detail about because I don't want to spoil the tale. For it is one well worth to read for yourself! And you really should, even if you don't like history.
This isn't some kind of stuffy historical novel, it's a fast paced thrilling mystery and adventure set in the Victorian era that is bound to charm everyone that loves a good book. It's the kind of book that will make you miss your stop whilst reading on public transport or miss sleep because you just forget track of time whilst you're reading it before bedtime, it is just _that_ great.
What I really love about this book is that you can read it without having read the Alchemy of Murder or having any preliminary historical knowledge at all. You don't need to know about Nellie Bly, you don't need to know about the 19th century, quite on the contrary, you'll pick up all the info you need whilst reading it. It's like learning history in the most pleasant way possible, how great is that! All that you need to be able to follow the story and understand the historical background is provided within in handy editor footnotes written in such a way they are always adding and never disturbing.
It also doesn't bother with lengthy repetitive back stories authors often use to bring new readers up to speed like you often find in series. It gives all the information from Alchemy you need, but short and to the point so it's not disruptive to the returning Nellie-reader and perfectly informative to those that haven't read the first book.
It's also very clear that the author has done her research on the countries Nellie visits, local sights and customs. Everything is described into detail but very to the point, which keeps the pace of the book without boring the reader with page long descriptions of a single thing. Whilst reading it you can clearly imagine everything that you're reading like you're inside the tale witnessing everything for yourself.
All of this makes the Illusion of Murder a fantastic book, imaginative, exiting and just plain brilliant.