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Friday, September 7, 2018

Review - This Side of Murder

From the author of the fantastic Lardy Darby Mysteries comes this new historical mystery series set just after WWI.  I admit I was drawn to the book because I love the Lady Darby books and wanted to find out if this new series was as engrossing.


Author: Anna Lee Huber

Copyright: Sept 2017 (Kensington) 304 pgs

Series: 1st in Verity Kent Mystery series

Sensuality: N/A

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Cozy / Amateur Sleuth

Main Character: Verity Kent, widow of WWI Officer 

Setting: 1919, Umbersea Island England

Obtained Through: Personal purchase

"England, 1919. Verity Kent’s grief over the loss of her husband pierces  anew when she receives a cryptic letter, suggesting her beloved Sidney may have committed treason before his untimely death. Determined to dull  her pain with revelry, Verity’s first impulse is to dismiss the derogatory claim. But the mystery sender knows too much—including the fact that during the war, Verity worked for the Secret Service, something not even Sidney knew.  

Lured to Umbersea Island to attend the engagement party of one of Sidney’s fellow officers, Verity mingles among the men her husband once fought beside, and discovers dark secrets—along with a murder clearly meant to conceal them. Relying on little more than a coded letter, the help of a dashing stranger, and her own sharp instincts, Verity is forced down a path she never imagined—and comes face to face with the shattering possibility that her husband may not have been the man she thought he was. It’s a truth that could set her free—or draw her ever deeper into his deception . . ."  It appears the surviving members of the suspiciously disastrous Thirtieth are being killed off during the weekend.

Verity starts out rather reserved and too timid but finally finds her spunk and voice amid the social pariahs of the engagement party.   Max Westfield, Earl of Ryde, was briefly Sidney's commanding officer and takes a shine to Verity.  But can she trust him to help her with the growing questions surrounding Sidney's death and the growing question of the unit having a traitor?  Sidney or his memory, ever present as Verity mingles with his fellow officers and her grieving is just below the  surface, seems rather bland and lacked much fire in their relationship before he shipped off to war.  Walter Ponsonby and Beatrice are the engaged couple throwing the party.  Walter wants to please Beatrice and is absent-minded and put out by the murders while Beatrice seems to want to throw a successful society party to show she can.  The rest of the guests range between prickly and blatantly hostile.  Thus the suspects are plentiful.

The island setting and time period are faithfully recreated and provide a delicious backdrop for a weekend of murder and mayhem.  The plot grows more twisted as the story progresses and there are only a few slow moments (the beginning seems slow, but warms up after a little while).  The climax was a mixture of daring action and tense moments.  The wrap-up answered all the questions and left a new beginning for Verity so readers want to read the next book.  

There is a significant twist towards the end that I honestly wasn't happy with.  It was a whooper, but changed the story in a way I didn't appreciate.  I can't say more without spoilers.  I have to say that there were a few instances that Verity as the main character lost my interest, but was regained after a few pages.  I hope the romantic direction will be corrected in the next book (Treacherous is the Night due Sept 25th).  .  

Rating: Between Good and Excellent - a solid mystery with suspense and a few minor flaws in my way of seeing things :-)

Here is a short video with 10 Remarkable Facts about WWI


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2CgUIrBHoo







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