Sunday, May 1, 2011

Crime Fiction Alphabet: Letter P

Kerrie over at Mysteries in Paradise sponsors The Aphabet in Crime Fiction community meme. your post MUST be related to the first letter of the book's title, the first letter of the author's first name or the first letter of the author's surname. You can write a book review or a bio of an author so long as it fits the rules somehow.

This week we are featuring the Letter P. And P is brought to you this week by Caro Peacock. Caro Peacock is a pseudonym for Gillian Linscott. Linscott was was a journalist and BBC Radio parliamentary correspondent before turning to full-time writing. Under the name Linscott, she is most well-known for her Nell Bray series. Her previous novels, featuring the suffragette detective Nell Bray, have won her the CWA/Ellis Peters Historical Dagger 2000 and the Herodotus Award for Best International Historical Mystery Novel.

Linscott employs the name Caro Peacock for a newer historical mystery series featuring a young Victorian detective, Liberty Lane. So far, I have read only one of her Liberty Lane books--A Foreign Affair (which happens to be the first novel of the series). Here is my review of that novel (at the time I did not realize that Peacock was the pseudonym for an established writer):

A Foreign Affair by Caro Peacock is a remarkably good debut novel. Set at the beginning of the Victorian era (in fact, it begins just as Victoria is about to be crowned), this novel blends history with adventure and mystery. It follows Liberty Lane who travels to Dover, expecting to meet her father as he returns from France. Instead, she receives a brief note telling her that her father has been killed in a duel in Calais and that she should stay where she is until someone comes to her. Being a somewhat independent and headstrong young woman, she goes to France to discover the truth of her father's death--for she knows his principles and that he would never have fought a duel. Her adventures lead her to well-bred horse, a mystery woman, and members of a secret society. Soon she finds herself acting as a spy in Mandeville Hall in a bargain meant to help her find her father's killer. But nothing at the hall is exactly what she expects and there are perils and secrets everywhere. Liberty doesn't know who she can trust and slowly begins to realize that plot is bigger than one man's death in a foreign land....there is a threat that reaches even to the new young queen.

Peacock has a remarkable command of the history of the early Victorian period. She manages to pack a lot of historical detail into her writing without boring the reader. The details never overshadow the story. Liberty is a believable character and I found myself just as indignant as she when characters who seem to know details of her father's fate refuse to tell what they know. A writer that can involve their readers that closely in the story is rare and it's even rarer for them to have that kind of control in their first novel. It was a later book in the series that first caught my eye, and, hating to jump into a series in mid-stream, I went to find the first book. I look forward to following Liberty through her future adventures. Four out of five stars.


Anonymous said...

Bev - Oooh, you have whetted my appetite for the Liberty Lane series. Nell Bray is a great character, so I'm hoping to like the new series, too. A fine choice for "P." :-).

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bev - yet another clearly worthwhile yet hitherto unknown (to me) writer to add to the list! Thanks for feeding the addiction ...

Yvette said...

Sounds good. I've never heard of these before. I like mysteries set during this era. Have you ever read the Anne Perry books featuring Thomas and Charlotte Pitt? Also her William Monk books. Both set around Victorian times although the Monk books migh be set a little earlier.

Good stuff.

Bev Hankins said...

@Yvette: Yes, I've read quite a bit of Perry (More Thomas & Charlotte Pitt than the Monk books)...I was on quite a Perry reading jag when she first started writing. Last thing I read was one of her Christmas books (A Christmas Grace)--back in the fall for a Christmas Challenge.