A thoroughly entertaining excursion to the literary England of the late 19th century with some ink-stained amateur...

THE DANTE CHAMBER

This well-wrought sequel of sorts to The Dante Club (2002) shifts the action to England and another set of literary lights who seek to solve crimes tied to The Divine Comedy.

In late 1869, around the time a British member of Parliament dies under the crushing weight of a large stone on which a Latin message is written, the poet Christina Rossetti has an “ominous foreboding” about her missing brother, the erratic artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti. She, Robert Browning, and William Rossetti (another brother) seek clues at Gabriel’s London home, which he shares with a monkey, a raccoon, and other nonwriting animals. The humans recognize links between the MP’s death and punishments in Dante’s “Purgatory.” They will be joined in their probe by Alfred Tennyson and Oliver Wendell Holmes, visiting from Boston, and bothered by the well-read Scotland Yard Detective Adolphus “Dolly” Williamson, who has trouble with the Fenians but is more intrigued by the Dante killing. Soon it's killings, starting with an opera singer whose eyes are sewn shut before she's bizarrely impaled. While the literati grow concerned that Gabriel is involved in the deaths, an ex-Pinkerton operative arrives in England to try to capitalize on the crimes the way he did with those in Boston that Pearl (The Last Bookaneer, 2015, etc.) described in The Dante Club. Displaying extensive knowledge of the period and the writers, Pearl builds an intricate, well-layered plot. His addition of Holmes, one of the previous book’s main players, supplies a bridge between the U.S. and U.K. Dantean crimes. The language has nice period touches but overall is less overdone than in Pearl's past. And his focus on Christina among several imposing male writers makes narrative sense but is also a refreshing choice and produces a complex, appealing character.

A thoroughly entertaining excursion to the literary England of the late 19th century with some ink-stained amateur detectives.

Pub Date: May 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59420-493-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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An anodyne visit with Tricia and her friends and enemies hung on a thin mystery.

A KILLER EDITION

Too much free time leads a New Hampshire bookseller into yet another case of murder.

Now that Tricia Miles has Pixie Poe and Mr. Everett practically running her bookstore, Haven’t Got a Clue, she finds herself at loose ends. Her wealthy sister, Angelica, who in the guise of Nigela Ricita has invested heavily in making Stoneham a bookish tourist attraction, is entering the amateur competition for the Great Booktown Bake-Off. So Tricia, who’s recently taken up baking as a hobby, decides to join her and spends a lot of time looking for the perfect cupcake recipe. A visit to another bookstore leaves Tricia witnessing a nasty argument between owner Joyce Widman and next-door neighbor Vera Olson over the trimming of tree branches that hang over Joyce’s yard—also overheard by new town police officer Cindy Pearson. After Tricia accepts Joyce’s offer of some produce from her garden, they find Vera skewered by a pitchfork, and when Police Chief Grant Baker arrives, Joyce is his obvious suspect. Ever since Tricia moved to Stoneham, the homicide rate has skyrocketed (Poisoned Pages, 2018, etc.), and her history with Baker is fraught. She’s also become suspicious about the activities at Pets-A-Plenty, the animal shelter where Vera was a dedicated volunteer. Tricia’s offered her expertise to the board, but president Toby Kingston has been less than welcoming. With nothing but baking on her calendar, Tricia has plenty of time to investigate both the murder and her vague suspicions about the shelter. Plenty of small-town friendships and rivalries emerge in her quest for the truth.

An anodyne visit with Tricia and her friends and enemies hung on a thin mystery.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0272-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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The parts with Nero Wolfe, the only character Goldsborough brings to life, are almost worth waiting for.

ARCHIE GOES HOME

In Archie Goodwin's 15th adventure since the death of his creator, Rex Stout, his gossipy Aunt Edna Wainwright lures him from 34th Street to his carefully unnamed hometown in Ohio to investigate the death of a well-hated bank president.

Tom Blankenship, the local police chief, thinks there’s no case since Logan Mulgrew shot himself. But Archie’s mother, Marjorie Goodwin, and Aunt Edna know lots of people with reason to have killed him. Mulgrew drove rival banker Charles Purcell out of business, forcing Purcell to get work as an auto mechanic, and foreclosed on dairy farmer Harold Mapes’ spread. Lester Newman is convinced that Mulgrew murdered his ailing wife, Lester’s sister, so that he could romance her nurse, Carrie Yeager. And Donna Newman, Lester’s granddaughter, might have had an eye on her great-uncle’s substantial estate. Nor is Archie limited to mulling over his relatives’ gossip, for Trumpet reporter Verna Kay Padgett, whose apartment window was shot out the night her column raised questions about the alleged suicide, is perfectly willing to publish a floridly actionable summary of the leading suspects that delights her editor, shocks Archie, and infuriates everyone else. The one person missing is Archie’s boss, Nero Wolfe (Death of an Art Collector, 2019, etc.), and fans will breathe a sigh of relief when he appears at Marjorie’s door, debriefs Archie, notices a telltale clue, prepares dinner for everyone, sleeps on his discovery, and arranges a meeting of all parties in Marjorie’s living room in which he names the killer.

The parts with Nero Wolfe, the only character Goldsborough brings to life, are almost worth waiting for.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5040-5988-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Mysterious Press

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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