Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Still Life With Murder

Author: P.B Ryan Genre: Historical Fiction / Mystery Type: Kindle ebook First Published: July 2010 (Kindle edition), July 2003 (print) Series: 1st book in the Gilded Age Mystery series

Series Order:



  • Still Life With Murder (2003)

  • Death on Beacon Hill (2004)

  • Murder in a Mill Town (2004)

  • Murder on Black Friday (2005)

  • Murder in the North End (2006)

  • A Bucket of Ashes (2007)
First Line: "It's going to be a bad one."

Synopsis: Set in post Civil War Boston, this historical mystery introduces readers to Nell Sweeney. Nell is an assistant to a prominent Boston doctor and is on hand during a difficult birth in the home of a wealthy family. Nell's life changes forever when she is asked by the lady of the house, who has just adopted the baby, to be the baby's governess. Nell jumps at the chance to better her life.

Three years later Nell has gone from being a poor, unconnected Irish waif to living in a beautiful upper class home taking care of the toddler named Grace. In the past few years Nell has also become a close friend and confidante to the lady of the house, Viola Hewitt. When Mrs Hewitt learns that one of her sons, whom she thought killed in the war, is being charged with a serious crime Mrs Hewitt enlists the help of Nell to help clear her son of the charges. Little does Nell realize but she'll be thrown into a world that she desperately wants to forget -- a world of poverty, opium dens and houses of ill repute. Slowly, Nell becomes more and more involved in the mystery surrounding Will Hewitt's criminal charges.

My Thoughts: I quite enjoyed this read that I just happened to buy from the Kindle store based on a few good reviews and, quite honestly, the low price. It had a good, solid mystery and I loved the fact that it took place in the Gilded Era, a time that I don't know too much about.

The book has a good pace and great characters. Nell is a strong and independent woman but her attitude and independence believably fits with the time period. I love the fact that the author alludes to Nell's not so innocent past which really sparked my interest to figure out what she's hiding. Her life story, growing up poor, is briefly discussed and it was interesting to see what life was like for the working poor back then. Nell adores her charge, Grace, but fears that one wrong step (or one secret revealed) could cast her from her place in upper society back to her much more humble beginnings.

Nell's chemistry and banter with Will Hewitt create a good tension and I'm interested to see where it leads. Will is a very dark character who is extremely flawed ... yet the reader and Nell can see a glimmer of promise in him. I'm looking forward to reading more in this series.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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