Genre: Historical

Sophia Rose Review: Passage From Nuala by Harriet Steel

Posted July 4, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 5 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: Passage From Nuala by Harriet SteelPassage from Nuala by Harriet Steel
Series: The Inspector de Silva Mysteries #6
Published by Self-published on March 6, 2019
Genres: Historical, Cozy Mystery
Pages: 230
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

Inspector de Silva and Jane embark on a cruise to Egypt to visit the pyramids, excited at the prospect of two weeks of sun, sea and relaxation. With Nuala, and de Silva’s duties as a police officer, far behind them, what can possibly spoil their plans? Then a writer is found dead in his cabin, suffocated by newspaper thrust down his throat. Once again, de Silva must swing into action.The Inspector de Silva Mysteriesis a colourful and absorbing series, spiced with humour. Set in Ceylon in the 1930s, it will appeal to fans of traditional and cozy mysteries.

A detective mystery series set in 1930’s Ceylon (Sri Lanka) with a Singalese detective during the British Colonial period has produced a series of engaging, clever mysteries and characters. I was thrilled that this latest took our dear Inspector Shanti de Silva and his beloved wife Jane to sea where even a holiday trip can be murder.

Passage From Nuala is the sixth book in the series. Each book could be read standalone though the players and situation are introduced more thoroughly in book one and expanded upon through each book. For instance, the de Silvas are joined by the Petries in this one and it was fun to get to know a different side of that couple from their earlier introductions.

Much of the book was a fun story of Shanti and Jane’s travel adventures aboard ship, a stop in Bombay, and shipboard life. They are in tourist class, but join the Petries now and then for the first class. Then, of course there is a murder and Shanti and Mr. Petrie are kept busy investigating while keeping it all hush hush. They have to solve it before the cruise ship reaches Port Said and the guilty party can slip away.

As always, the author dots her stories with fascinating people of all walks of life from the below decks international serving crew to the upper crust who are traveling in exotic ports of call. Shanti and Jane meet with some reservations, but also some acceptance for their interracial marriage. It was fun to see Shanti get a surprise as to just who falls into which group.

The murder was a seeming perfect one at first with few easy clues, motives, or opportunities, but slowly Shanti, Petrie and their wives untangle the threads. There were a few good red herrings to put me off the scent. I’ll be honest. I had the obvious suspect and knew there was a second one, but no idea who so I found out when Shanti did.

The 1930’s setting was played forward even with life aboard the cruise ship. The author isn’t heavy handed with historical description, but it is there in the background so the reader is well aware of the surroundings of the story.

Another solid entry in the series that continues to be a favorite. Definitely recommend to historical cozy mystery fans.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Sophia Rose Review: A Quiet Life in the Country by T.E. Kinsey, Narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden

Posted March 22, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 10 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: A Quiet Life in the Country by T.E. Kinsey, Narrated by Elizabeth KnoweldenA Quiet Life in the Country by T E Kinsey, Elizabeth Knowelden
Narrator: Elizabeth Knowelden
Length: 7 hours 43 minutes
Series: Lady Hardcastle Mysteries #1
Published by Brilliance Audio on October 4, 2016
Genres: Historical Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

7 hours and 43 minutes
A Lady Hardcastle Mystery, Book 1
Lady Emily Hardcastle is an eccentric widow with a secret past. Florence Armstrong, her maid and confidante, is an expert in martial arts. The year is 1908 and they've just moved from London to the country, hoping for a quiet life.
But it is not long before Lady Hardcastle is forced out of her self-imposed retirement. There's a dead body in the woods, and the police are on the wrong scent. Lady Hardcastle makes some enquiries of her own, and it seems she knows a surprising amount about crime investigation...
As Lady Hardcastle and Flo delve deeper into rural rivalries and resentment, they uncover a web of intrigue that extends far beyond the village. With almost no one free from suspicion, they can be certain of only one fact: there is no such thing as a quiet life in the country.
©2016 T E Kinsey. (P)2016 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.
Listening Length: 7 hours and 43 minutes

I started with book three in this series, progressed forward, and finally took the opportunity to go back and get the first book in the series. The cozy mystery paired with historical Edwardian setting was light and whimsical.

Actually, when I started listening, I realized that the first book introduced Lady Hardcastle and her ladies’ maid, Florence Armstrong along with their new home and the other regular characters, in such a way that it didn’t feel like the first book so much as the first of the stories that had been recorded. There are hints of their unusual, dangerous work abroad and no big explanation why the pair happened to be set upon ‘a quiet life in the country’ or why Lady Hardcastle and Florence have a relationship that is nearly family rather than an employer and servant from separate classes. The author trickles out the details and the reader/listener must catch them and piece them together as they go. Because I had experienced later books, those pieces stuck out easily to me. The meeting with Inspector Sunderland and the local villagers and neighborhood was fun. I do enjoy the amusing banter between the two women and hints of darker matters and sorrow from their shared past.

There are two murder mysteries that have interesting crossover people and facts. One seems to involve a dead man from the village cricket team whose death was meant to appear like a suicide and then later, the death of a rag-time band trumpeteer that played at the engagement party of the local squire’s daughter. A theft is tossed in for good measure.

I figured out one of the murders and part of the theft and the second murder, but the ultimate solution took me by surprise. Loved seeing the intrepid Flo able to get in some of her martial arts ability, use her cache of being a member of the serving class to get their help and take on things, and spend time trailing along as her ladyship teased out the solution alongside Inspector Sunderland using old fashioned detection methods.

Elizabeth Knowelden is an absolute gem of a narrator and the voice of this series for me. She laid out the Edwardian country village world, the variety of genders and accents, and kept the pace and tone for this series just right.

All in all, I thought this first entry was as fabulous as the later books and do not hesitate to put it out there as a good bet for historical cozy mystery lovers.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Sophia Rose Review: Offstage in Nuala by Harriet Steel, narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies

Posted February 28, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 10 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: Offstage in Nuala by Harriet Steel, narrated by Matthew Lloyd DaviesOffstage in Nuala by Harriet Steel
Narrator: Matthew Lloyd Davies
Length: 5 hours 44 minutes
Series: The Inspector de Silva Mysteries #3
Published by Tantor Audio on October 24, 2017
Genres: Historical, Cozy Mystery
Pages: 224
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

In this third instalment of The Inspector de Silva Mysteries, there’s great excitement when a professional theatre company comes to Nuala. However matters take a dark turn when the company’s actor manager is murdered. Inspector de Silva has a new case to solve and he has to consider some very unpalatable motives for the crime. He will need all his persistence, coupled with his wife, Jane’s, invaluable help to unmask the villain of the piece. Set on the exotic island of Ceylon in the 1930s, The Inspector de Silva Mysteries provide a colourful and relaxing read spiced with humour and an engaging cast of characters.

Shanti de Silva takes his wife Jane to the newly opened playhouse in Nuala when a traveling Shakespearean theater troupe arrive in town. It is not long before Hamlet is enacted in real life and Inspector de Silva must work out who brought the final curtain down on the lead actor.

This is the third of the Inspector de Silva mysteries set in 1930’s Ceylon with a Sinhalese detective who must always do a balancing act between the Colonial British government and the local peoples of whom he is one as he solves crime in Ceylon mountain city in the heart of tea plantation country. Shanti is a progressive and intellectual man who chose to marry warmhearted former governess, Jane. They share a tender and friendly loving relationship along with an interest in crime-solving, but also must deal with the nuances to their marriage that come from being an interracial couple.

Each of these historical cozy mysteries are a delight for the details of the 1930’s world of Ceylon and having the main character being non-British. This aids and hinders his work in turn.

The mysteries are not devilishly twisting, but they are not too easy to figure out, either. I enjoy seeing Shanti gather the facts here and there, consult Jane’s take, engage in other daily affairs, and then have an intense action-packed final scene when he exposes the killer.

The narrator, Matthew Lloyd Davies, does a stellar job of voicing gender, age, many international accents, and bringing out nuances in the story with a good handle on pacing and tone. I get lost in his storytelling each time I listen in to this series.

In summary, these are a wonderful escape to the past and an exotic setting with a clever murder and engaging characters. Definitely recommend to those who enjoy this genre.

My thanks to Tantor Audio for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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