There’s an Irish saying: “May you get all your wishes but one, so that you will always have something to strive for.” I’d say the bookworm has this covered – there is always one more book to read.

Sister Sleuths: Female Detectives in Britain by Nell Darby

From the publisher: The 1857 Divorce Act paved the way for a new career for women: that of the private detective. To divorce, you needed proof of adultery – and men soon realized that women were adept at infiltrating households and befriending wives, learning secrets and finding evidence. Over the course of the next century, women became increasingly confident in gaining work as private detectives, moving from largely unrecognized helpers to the police and to male detectives, to becoming owners of their own detective agencies. In fiction, they were depicted as exciting creatures needing money and work; in fact, they were of varying ages, backgrounds and marital status, seeking adventure and independence as much as money.

The book is well-researched but unfortunately it reads as too academic. Though I don’t mind a bit of scholarly reading, I fear it might be off-putting to a casual enthusiast. More troubling was the choppy writing style. The author’s points are inconsistent and jumbled. While there are interesting bits of information, they can get tangled up in the muddled presentation.

My rating: 
Read via NetGalley.

Publisher: Pen and Sword History (March 3, 2021)
Language: English
Paperback: 216 pages
ISBN-10: 1526780259

Fortune’s Many Houses: A Victorian Visionary, a Noble Scottish Family, and a Lost Inheritance by Simon Welfare

From the publisher: In the late 19th century, John and Ishbel Gordon, the Marquess and Marchioness of Aberdeen, were the couple who seemed to have it all: a fortune that ran into the tens of millions, a magnificent stately home in Scotland surrounded by one of Europe’s largest estates, a townhouse in London’s most fashionable square, cattle ranches in Texas and British Columbia, and the governorships of Ireland and Canada where they lived like royalty.

Together they won praise for their work as social reformers and pioneers of women’s rights, and enjoyed friendships with many of the most prominent figures of the age, from Britain’s Prime Ministers to Oliver Wendell-Holmes and P.T. Barnum and Queen Victoria herself. Yet by the time they died in the 1930s, this gilded couple’s luck had long since run out: they had faced family tragedies, scandal through their unwitting involvement in one of the “crimes of the century” and, most catastrophically of all, they had lost both their fortune and their lands.

The author does an amazing job of breathing life into the characters. What could easily be a black-and-white, dry recital of biographical details and blueprints is instead a vibrant picture of a particular place, time, and social strata.

My rating: 
Read via NetGalley

Publisher: Atria Books (February 16, 2021)
Language: English
Hardcover: 352 pages
ISBN-10: 1982128623

The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon

From the publisher: When social worker Jax receives nine missed calls from her older sister, Lexie, she assumes that it’s just another one of her sister’s episodes. But the next day, Lexie is dead: drowned in the pool at their grandmother’s estate. When Jax arrives at the house to go through her sister’s things, she learns that Lexie was researching the history of their family and the property. And as she dives deeper into the research herself, she discovers that the land holds a far darker past than she could have ever imagined.

In 1929, thirty-seven-year-old newlywed Ethel Monroe hopes desperately for a baby. In an effort to distract her, her husband whisks her away on a trip to Vermont, where a natural spring is showcased by the newest and most modern hotel in the Northeast. Once there, Ethel learns that the water is rumored to grant wishes, never suspecting that the spring takes in equal measure to what it gives.

This author’s novel The Winter People is one of my favorites, but for me this didn’t hit the mark. The concept was good and there were some eerie moments, but on the whole it didn’t quite hang together.

My rating: 
Read via NetGalley

Publisher : Gallery/Scout Press (April 6, 2021)
Language : English
Hardcover : 336 pages
ISBN-10 : 198215392X

We Are Bellingcat: Global Crime, Online Sleuths, and the Bold Future of News by Eliot Higgins

From the publisher: In 2018, Russian exile Sergei Skripal and his daughter were nearly killed in an audacious poisoning attempt in Salisbury, England. Soon, the identity of one of the suspects was revealed: he was a Russian spy. This huge investigative coup wasn’t pulled off by an intelligence agency or a traditional news outlet. Instead, the scoop came from Bellingcat, the open-source investigative team that is redefining the way we think about news, politics, and the digital future.

We Are Bellingcat tells the inspiring story of how a college dropout pioneered a new category of reporting and galvanized citizen journalists-working together from their computer screens around the globe-to crack major cases, at a time when fact-based journalism is under assault.

The author gives a good overview, in a conversational tone, about how online sleuthing works. Though there are some technical aspects to the process, he underlines how careful, diligent clue gathering can be helpful in real cases, and anyone can be successful at it.

My rating: 
Read via NetGalley

Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing; 1st edition (March 2, 2021)
Language : English
Hardcover : 272 pages
ISBN-10 : 1635577306

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