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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Review - Snow White Red-Handed

I apologize that my reviewing schedule has been behind with Thanksgiving and life issues. 

We were very pleased to have a guest post last week by Maia Chance (click here.) Here are my thoughts on this new historical mystery series by Ms. Chance. So, let's take a trip to the Black Forest of Germany in the 1800s for our this book.

Author: Maia Chance

Copyright: November 2014 (Berkley) 336 pgs

Series: 1st in Fairy Tale Fatal Mystery series

Sensuality: Attraction, period romance

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Mystery

Main Characters: Miss Ophelia Flax is a fired New York actress, posing as a lady's maid

Setting: 1876, Black Forest England

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Ophelia finds herself out-of-work in the middle of the trip across the Atlantic to England aboard the S.S. Leviathan, so she bamboozles her way into a  lady’s maid position for herself and a scullery maid for her friend Prudence Bright with an American millionaire. The new jobs take Ophelia and Prue to an ominous castle in the middle of the Black Forest.  Two professors arrive to inspect the apparent discovery of the cottage of the Seven Dwarfs from Snow White fairy-tale fame, complete with what might be a dwarf's skeleton. The American millionaire turns up dead from a poisoned apple. Prue was setup for the murder and is thrown in the tower prison, so Ophelia feels she must save Prue by proving her innocence.  No easy job with secrets surrounding her.  There are deceptive princesses, deposed and penniless Counts, gambling sharks, and treasure hunters all lurking with their own agendas.  Ophelia joins forces with one of the visiting professors, which has its own set of problems.

Ophelia, a resourceful, smart, and worldly woman who cares deeply for her young friend, takes on the responsibility to see them both safely through the world.  Prudence is naive and was raised to marry well, not work, thus she is about to grow up a bit.  Professor Gabriel Penrose us an avid fairy tale enthusiast who believes many of the tales where based on bits of truth.  He teams with Ophelia to gain information about Snow White and Dwarf legacy from the Castle in exchange for helping prove Prue didn't kill Mr. Coop, her employer.  Hansel is a gardener who helps to look after Prue and ends up being very useful and the investigation impacts him personally.  There are many suspects and clues to wade through.

Germany's Black Forest with the castle, nearby town of Schloss Grunewald and Baden-Baden a train-ride away are all the setting for this tale.  The setting is very much a part of the story and plot, making the old Grimm's Fairy Tale seem very possible.  These locals also add old world gothic touches to bump up the suspense.

The plot of unique, utilizing old Fairy Tales as based in some true events and what searching for the mine the dwarfs worked in could do to unscrupulous people, and how far they would go, is a great twist on an old theme.  The pace held steady throughout and there were many plot twists to keep the pages turning.  The climax had some nail-biting moments and was nicely done.  The wrap-up provides more opportunities for Ophelia, which will keep her adventures going with Cinderella in France next.

A fantastic new take for a historical mystery series with clever plotting and a strong lead character in Ophelia.  I am an instant fan.

Rating:  Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend.

Pinecone Wreath with Cardinals and Ornaments

Wreaths make a great festive touch that can be used year after year with minimal fuss.  

To make, coat a store-bought pinecone wreath with gray spray paint. Spray with spray snow, then silver glitter, allowing drying time between coats. Arrange three cardinal figurines and nine round red ornaments among the pinecones, adhering with hot glue to keep them in place.
More great wreath ideas 
(click here)

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