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Sherlock meets Jonathan Creek in Regency England
on 11 December 2014
I've read a few of Catherine Winchester's other books, but I think this has to be my favourite so far.
The story follows Thea and Cole as they try to solve a series of unusual murders at his family seat. It's like the love child of Sherlock Holmes and Jonathan Creek, set in Regency England. A murder in a locked room. A ghostly apparition. A skilled medium. The book lives up to its potential as an interesting mystery woven around a love story.
I'm one of those really irritating people that always figures out the ending before it happens and I'd worked out what had happened and who had killed whom and even with what, a long time before it was all revealed to the reader, but that didn't actually detract from the story in any way.
The reason for that is the fact that the plot is carried by the two main characters. I think what's most loveable about Thea is that she's so socially awkward. In a time where women aren't expected to have opinions, she's quite rightly frustrated by the fact that her intellect dwarfs that of everyone around her. She's blunt and often unintentionally hilarious because of it. I liked that she was sassy and stood up to people, despite hating the situation her gender and the times put her in.
Cole was also a great character - warm, honest and kind. He drew you in, made you want to cheer for him.
The cast of supporting characters were like the best kind of Disney film - wicked stepmother, kindly father, empty headed social climbing butterflies flocking around Prince Charming....they were well done and rounded out the story well.
The final thing I liked about this is that Winchester doesn't pull punches. There's none of this hero rides in to saves the day or the court grants a stay of execution for the sake of not upsetting sensibilities. It's realistic in that respect so it provides a greater depth of emotional impact. I can't really describe what happens without spoiling the story, but you'll understand what I mean when you read it.
In all I'd recommend as a light, warm, interesting and somewhat unusual read for a rainy winter afternoon :)