Friday, 27 December 2013

The Arnifour Affair

Author: Gregory Harris
Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: #1 in the Colin Pendragon mystery series
Type: Kindle e-book Advanced Reading Copy
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
First Line: "The subject, as it so often is, was murder."

Book Description from GoodReadsSet against the fog-shrouded backdrop of turn-of-the-century London, Gregory Harris's new historical mystery series introduces tenacious sleuth Colin Pendragon, and a case that illuminates the darkness lurking in the heart of one of England's most noble families.

When a carriage bearing the Arnifour family crest--a vulture devouring a slaughtered lamb--arrives at the Kensington home of Colin Pendragon, it is an ominous beginning to a perplexing new case. Lady Arnifour's husband has been beaten to death and her niece, Elsbeth, left in a coma. Is the motive passion, revenge, or something even more sinister? Police suspicions have fallen on the groundskeeper and his son, yet the Earl's widow is convinced of their innocence.

Even as Colin and his partner Ethan Pruitt delve into the muddy history of the Arnifour family, a young street urchin begs their help in finding his missing sister. Ethan, regrettably familiar with London's underbelly, urges caution, yet Colin's interest is piqued. And in a search that wends from the squalid opium dens of the East End to the salons of Embassy Row, the truth about these seemingly disparate cases will prove disquieting, dangerous, and profoundly unexpected.

Note: My sincere thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My Review:  I am always on the lookout for a new author that I will adore and impatiently eagerly await their next novel. Whether it's their amazing characters that I can't stop thinking about, their witty writing or the twists they put into their plots, there's just that special 'something' that leaves me wanting more. 

I think I've found that in Gregory Harris. 

The Arnifour Affair has everything I love in a good mystery.  It's set in a historical setting(late Victorian era London, no less!), wonderfully dry humour and memorable characters.  It's the successful mystery author's Hat Trick.

This is Harris' first novel and I was quite impressed with the depth of the mysteries, the character development and the quality of the writing that drew me in from the beginning.  Pruitt and Pendragon have a wonderful and refreshing rapport with each other and I have to admit I was nicely surprised by the revelation of the extent of their relationship. 

Harris has given the two men a very 'Sherlock and Watson' feel to them (without overdoing it) with Pruitt being the more cautious and quiet of the two and Pendragon being the intellectual (rather impetuous) driving force behind the detective work.  I loved the addition of Pruitt's dark past and Pendragon's great quips and retorts.  And the addition of the surly and ill-tempered Mrs Behmoth was the icing on the proverbial cake.

Harris doesn't waste any time and jumps into the mystery right away.  The story is told from Pruitt's point of view as Harris gives his readers tidbits about some of Pruitt and Pendragon's past mysteries to give the reader a sense of their history and success together.  That addition of the history of the main characters helped me to get a better feel for these two protagonists, gave their relationship more depth but didn't make me feel like I was missing out on their past exploits.

There are two mysteries that Pruitt and Pendragon are trying to solve.  The main mystery kept me guessing until the end even though I will admit that it felt like it lost a bit of oomph towards the end of the book.  The pace did pick up though and I enjoyed the main mystery but it was the secondary mystery that surprised me with its conclusion.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at just how much I enjoyed this book.  It has an engaging writing style, wonderful humour and memorable characters.  I am eager to see what's future exploits Pruitt and Pendragon will get into next.

Highly recommended.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

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