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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Review - Murder at Kensington Palace

My apologies for being absent the last few months.  I have many reviews to write and post because I have been reading a good bit.  I just haven't had the time to write the reviews.  Plus I was in a car accident on icy roads and totaled my car back in November.  Although I only had some bruising, the experience left me a bit unsettled and I am just now getting back to the blog.

I truly love this series.  I reviewed the first in the Wrexford and Sloane series, Murder on Swan Lake, (click here) and the second in this new series, Murder at Half Moon Gate (click here). Read on to find out how the third novel in this new historical mystery stacks up.
 
Author: Andrea Penrose
 
Copyright: Sept 2019 (Kensington) 298 pgs
 
Series: 3rd in Wrexford and Sloane Mystery series
 
Sensuality: Mild
 
Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Cozy
 
Main Characters: Widowed Charlotte Sloane, a satirical cartoonist under the name A.J. Quill teams with Earl of Wrexford, former military man and amateur chemist
 
Setting: Regency era, London England
 
Obtained Through: Publisher (via NetGalley) for honest review
 
Book blurb:  "Wrexford and Sloane must unravel secrets within secrets—including a few that entangle their own hearts—when they reunite to solve a string of shocking murders that have horrified Regency London . . .
 
Though Charlotte Sloane’s secret identity as the controversial satirical cartoonist A.J. Quill is safe with the Earl of Wrexford, she’s ill prepared for the rippling effects sharing the truth about her background has cast over their relationship. She thought a bit of space might improve the situation. But when her cousin is murdered and his twin brother is accused of the gruesome crime, Charlotte immediately turns to Wrexford for help in proving the young man’s innocence. Though she finds the brooding scientist just as enigmatic and intense as ever, their partnership is now marked by an unfamiliar tension that seems to complicate every encounter. 
 
Despite this newfound complexity, Wrexford and Charlotte are determined to track down the real killer. Their investigation leads them on a dangerous chase through Mayfair’s glittering ballrooms and opulent drawing rooms, where gossip and rumors swirl to confuse the facts. Was her cousin murdered over a romantic rivalry . . . or staggering gambling debts? Or could the motive be far darker and involve the clandestine scientific society that claimed both brothers as members? The more Charlotte and Wrexford try to unknot the truth, the more tangled it becomes. But they must solve the case soon, before the killer’s madness seizes another victim . . ."
 
Charlotte Sloane and the Earl of Wrexford, Wrex for short, team up again for this complicated and dangerous case.  Their relationship is tense at times and the reader is in the middle of it.  The two street urchins Charlotte has officially adopted, Raven and Hawk, are being tutored while still maintaining some of their street habits.  They are a joy to watch blossoming.  This story also provides more of Charlotte's background story.

The setting of Regency London provides great atmosphere and is one of the strong aspects of the series.  I enjoy how the scientific advances of the era are spotlighted.  Add a vicious serial killer, the Bloody Butcher, to the foggy mists of London and you have Gothic gold.  The plot and subplots immediately grabbed hold of me and didn't let go though a few twists and turns.  Ms. Penrose's writing style also contributed to create a page-turning suspenseful tale.

The killer reveal lived up to the standard set by the two previous books with nail biting tension and harrowing danger.  Excellent!  The wrap up left me wishing for the next book.

I enjoy the sharp dialog between Wrexford and Charlotte and how she is respectable yet has a network of street people who feed her information.  Her character is complex and layered.  Wrexford isn't so much brooding as disinterested with the typical superficial interests of the nobility and grouchy.  The two play off each other believably and with wry humor.  The era of scientific exploration adds realism along with the visceral descriptions of everything from Newgate prison to the ball rooms.  To sum it up, this novel is another gem in the series crown.  If you enjoy historical mysteries, this isn't to be missed.
 
Rating:  Near Perfect - Couldn't Put it down. Buy two copies, one for you and one for a friend. 


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