Book Review: The Eleventh Commandment #JohnSingerSargent #VernonLee

This is the fourth book in the John Singer Sargent/Violet Paget mystery series. The amateur sleuthing pair of artist John and writer Violet, who wrote under the name Vernon Lee, make a great combination. These lifelong friends are drawn into an archaeological mystery when John receives a package from an acquaintance, Moses Shapira. Shapira had recently been accused of promoting a fake manuscript of the ten commandments, with an eleventh commandment added! Is the package of leather strips that John received an original, or is it a fake? Not long after receiving the package, John and Violet learn of a suicide that could actually be a murder. In alternating chapters, we follow Moses Shapira as he discovers and tries to verify the manuscripts, and Violet and John as they investigate a possible murder and the origin of those same artifacts. This book can be read as a standalone.

The duo of John and Violet as amateur investigators is delightful. Their friendship and Violet’s insight make for an entertaining read. Their travels revolve around the arts and their investigation. Violet is an excellent narrator, and the book includes snippets about her work and John’s paintings. The fact that they were real-life friends who traveled extensively makes the books even more authentic. The mystery is intriguing and multi-layered. With Moses, we travel with Bedouin guides into the deserts of the Middle East, searching for treasures. With Violet and John, we visit Rotterdam and search for clues into a mysterious death. This is a captivating and multi-layered mystery with absolutely endearing main characters.

I received a free copy of this book from Word by Word Press via The Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mary Burns’ varied writing experience includes more than twenty years in business and agency public relations and communications, including video scripts, radio commercials, annual reports, newsletters and executive speeches.  She managed the media coverage of the 1987 visit of Pope John Paul II to San Francisco, and was the producer of a local television morning talk show, Body and Soul.  She has run her own consulting business twice, alternating with corporate positions, and is currently pursuing several writing projects.

Mary’s creative fiction writing began with a short story that won a prize at the 2000 Mendocino (California) Coast Writers Conference.  Two other short stories garnered first places (see them at www.coffeehousefiction.com and www.jerryjazzmusician.com). She was an invited participant at the 2004 Squaw Valley Community of Writers conference in Lake Tahoe, California. Her first historical novel titled J-THE WOMAN WHO WROTE THE BIBLE, was published in July 2010 by O-Books Publishers, UK. She has just completed her fourth book in the JOHN SINGER SARGENT/VIOLET PAGENT MYSTERY SERIES.

For more information please visit Mary’s website.

BUY LINKS: AMAZON|AMAZON UK

LINK TO THE ENTIRE SERIES (CLICK IMAGE BELOW)

Self-Published Saturday: Free Ebook! #Songbird #freebook

Wanted to let you know that the ebook of Gail Meath’s fantastic historical mystery, Songbird, is FREE right now on Amazon and other retailers. It will be free until March 14th. Songbird is Book 1 in the Jax Diamond Mysteries series, about a private detective, Jax, and his loyal sidekick, a savvy German Shepherd named Ace. Songbird is free right now in anticipation of Book 2, Framed, coming out soon. Be sure and pick up a copy. Remember to leave a review after you read it, as reviews are extremely important for the success of self-published authors.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Meet Jax Diamond, a sharp, sophisticated, skilled, no-nonsense private detective. Or is he? Glued to his side is his canine partner, Ace, a fierce and unrelenting German Shepherd whose mere presence terrorizes criminals into submission. Well, maybe not.

But the two of them are a whole lot smarter than they look. And they have their hands full when a playwright’s death is declared natural causes, and his new manuscript worth a million bucks is missing.

Laura Graystone, a beautiful rising Broadway star, is dragged into the heart of their investigation, and she’s none too happy about it. Especially when danger first strikes, and she needs to rely on her own ingenuity to save their hides.

Join Jax, Laura and Ace on a fun yet deadly ride during the Roaring Twenties that takes twists and turns, and a race against time to find the real murderer before he/she/they stop them permanently.

LINKS TO PICK UP SONGBIRD FOR FREE

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

BARNES AND NOBLE

KOBO

APPLE BOOKS

GOOGLE BOOKS

Once you pick up this free book, remember to leave a review. Just a couple of lines is fine and will help this book succeed.

Self-Published Saturday/Repost of Songbird

Self-Published Saturday (SPS) is my effort to help self-published and indie authors with the heavy task of marketing their books. Self-published authors have to do it all, from cover design to marketing and more. This is my effort to take a bit of that load and help promote their books on a Saturday. Please share these books on your social media, so all of your followers can see these great books as well. Today’s first review is of Songbird, a wonderful cozy historical mystery by Gail Meath set in New York City, 1923.

Following the review is a short Q&A with the author, Gail Meath.

FULL DISCLOSURE

I am the editor of this particular book. I wanted to make sure you had full knowledge of that before you read my review. My review is honest and my opinions are my own. This was my first editing adventure, and I want to thank Gail Meath for allowing me the opportunity. I am planning to start freelance editing next year and am doing a few editing jobs right now free of charge in order to gain experience. So let me know if need any help!

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Normally I come up with a paragraph describing the book on my own. But Gail Meath’s description is so good I couldn’t possibly come up with anything better, and it’s so clever I wanted to share it with you. So here is the book description written by Gail Meath.

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Meet Jax Diamond, a sharp, sophisticated, skilled, no-nonsense private detective. Or is he? Glued to his side is his canine partner, Ace, a fierce and unrelenting German Shepherd whose mere presence terrorizes criminals into submission. Well, maybe not.

But the two of them are a whole lot smarter than they look. And they have their hands full when a playwright’s death is declared natural causes, and his new manuscript worth a million bucks is missing.

Laura Graystone, a beautiful rising Broadway star, is dragged into the heart of their investigation, and she’s none too happy about it. Especially when danger first strikes, and she needs to rely on her own ingenuity to save their hides.

Join Jax, Laura and Ace on a fun yet deadly ride during the Roaring Twenties that takes twists and turns, and a race against time to find the real murderer before he/she/they stop them permanently.

BOOK REVIEW

This is a fantasically fun cozy mystery set in 1923 New York. The characters don’t just jump off the page, they pull you into their world. Jax’s sidekick, Ace, the wonderfully charming German Shepherd, will make his way into your heart in no time. The setting in 1923 New York City is well described and transports us back to that place and time. The portrayal of Coney Island makes you feel as if you are there, hanging on for dear life in the Steeplechase or winning a prize in the baseball toss. The mystery is so well done, with puzzles and red herrings that will keep you guessing. The main characters are complex and interesting. Jax, private investigator and former cop, has his own secrets to keep, and Laura’s talents are revealed to expand way beyond singing.

There is a sweet romance, but the complex and fascinating mystery is the star of the show, along with the lovable Ace. I highly recommend this book, the first in the Jax Diamond Mysteries series, to all mystery fans and to anyone who loves reading about our canine friends.

I received a free copy of this book from the author. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

Songbird will be released November 11, 2021.

Q&A WITH GAIL MEATH

Songbird is a fun cozy mystery, and a little more lighthearted than your complex and wonderful previous historical novels, such as Agustina De Aragon and Countess Jacqueline.  Where did you get the inspiration for Songbird

 A while back, I found and fell in love with the cover, and I knew that I had to write a book around it.  Over the summer, I had so much fun researching the Roaring Twenties era; the story just became a reflection of how I envisioned life on Broadway back then.  And it was a nice break from writing about the struggles of war.   

The series is set in 1923 in New York City.  Did you face any challenges in setting a mystery during this time and place?  

Choosing New York City made research easier than other places since it is one of the largest cities.  And I found tons of information regarding historical restaurants, speakeasies, theaters, etc.  There was so much more I wanted to include in the book, but I didn’t want to distract from the story.

Your description of Coney Island is fascinating and the rides sound like deadly fun.  Seriously, I’m not sure how anyone survived some of these rides.  Was there a lot of research material available for 1923 Coney Island?  

Like the rest the city, there was a great deal of research, but none of the articles tells you more about the Coney Island Amusement Park than the video I found.  It is a hoot!  Note from Bonnie: Please check out the link here of old 1920s Coney Island rides. You won’t want to miss it, and you will also be wondering how anyone survived! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Wz5vZmU8Dc&t=47s

One of your main characters is a German Shepherd, and he is delightful!  Was it challenging to make an animal a major part of the story, and do you have any dogs yourself?  

I am an avid animal lover and have a little Boston Terrier now.  Years ago, as soon as I married and moved to the country, I adopted Gretchen, the most beautiful, loyal and loving friend I’ve ever had.  She even saved my son’s life once.   She is still sorely missed, so it was very easy and fun finding a place for her as Ace in this book.

Was Gretchen a German Shepherd?

Yes, Gretchen was a shepherd, and she looked just like the pic I have of Ace under the covers in the book.

It appears there will be a sequel to Songbird.  Can you confirm that? 

 BLACKSTONE, Jax Diamond Mysteries – Book 2, should be ready in March and takes place in New England, but I’m not done with BROADWAY yet (Book 3)

Thank you Gail, for another great interview and for answering my questions today on short notice!

PRE-ORDER SONGBIRD

Amazon US

Amazon UK

COVER RATING

I love this cover. You instantly know you are in the 1920’s, and Ace and Jax are represented by the cards in the left corner. Very well done. The cover was done before the book, which is unusual, but as Gail stated above, it served as inspiration for the story.

*If you buy the book(s), please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books.  Some people feel very daunted by writing a review. Don’t worry. You do not have to write a masterpiece. Just a couple of lines about how the book made you feel will make the author’s day and help the book succeed. The more reviews a book has, the more Amazon will promote it.

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Poppy Redfern and the Fatal Flyers

Poppy Redfern and the Fatal Flyers is the second  book  in  the  “A  Woman  of  World  War  II”  mystery series by Tessa Arlen. Although it is the second in a series, it can be read as a standalone. It is 1942 and Poppy, employed by the London Crown Film Unit as  a scriptwriter during the war, is sent to work on location at an airfield.   The film she is working on is about       the  Air   Transport Auxiliary   pilots,   or   “Attagirls.”   This   amazing   group   of   female   pilots    flew  many   different types   of   planes   and   transported   them    to    airfields    all over Britain during    World War II. Sometimes  these  transports  occurred  during  severe  weather  conditions.  Poppy begins to work on the film and starts to get to know this intriguing group of talented and professional female pilots. When two “Attagirls”  are  killed  in  accidents  during  seemingly  routine  flights,  Poppy  and  her boyfriend Griff begin to investigate.

This was such an interesting read, especially since I had never heard of the “Attagirls.” The history of these brave  women  is  fascinating, and the author provides more facts about them in a historical note at the  end of the book.  The  murder  mystery  is  well  done,  with  many  twists,  turns,  and  red herrings.  The  villain is not easy to figure out, so the reader is surprised at the end. The characters are compelling and well developed. Our heroine, Poppy, proves to be a witty and clever sleuth. Her relationship with her boyfriend Griff is complicated at times, but that just makes it more interesting. This is a great combination of World War II historical fiction and cozy mystery. I would recommend this book to fans of both genres.

The first book in the series is Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders.

I received a free copy of this book from Berkley Publishing via Netgalley for Historical Novels Review. My review is voluntary.

BUY THE BOOK

AMAZON

BARNES AND NOBLE

BOOKBUB

APPLE BOOKS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tessa Arlen is the author of the critically acclaimed Lady Montfort mystery series—Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman was a finalist for the 2016 Agatha Award Best First Novel. She is also the author of Poppy Redfern: A Woman of World War II mystery series. And the author of the historical fiction: In Royal Service to the Queen.

Tessa lives in the Southwest with her family and two corgis where she gardens in summer and writes in winter.

Death and the Singing Birds

This is Book 3 in the Nell Drury mystery series.   It can be read as a standalone. It is 1926 in Kent, which is still adjusting to post-war life. The book opens with Chef Nell Drury preparing for Lady Ansley’s luncheon to welcome their new neighbors, Sir Gilbert and Lady Lisette Saddler. As they attempt to entertain the eccentric pair,   they learn Sir Gilbert is organizing a Summer African Art Festival at his home, Spitalfrith    Manor.  The  festival would feature the “Artistes de Cler.”   The festival is the talk of the town and everyone is invited. When a murder occurs at the festival, Lord Ansley’s valet is arrested. Can Nell clear his name?

This is a nice historical cozy mystery. The characters are well developed. I loved the author’s description of Lady Saddler “…She smiled, but it wasn’t the kind of smile that warmed the cockles of one’s heart. It was more the smile of a crocodile….” The members of the “Artistes de Cler” are an interesting group of characters as well. The story is told from several points of view, but it works well and is not confusing. In fact, it gives us more knowledge of some of the characters. The author also provides a helpful cast of characters list at the beginning of the book. I was hoping to read more about food since Nell is a chef, but the story centered more along the lines of art and investigation with just passing references to food. The mystery is well done, with plenty of red herrings thrown in. Recommended for fans of historical mysteries.

AMY MYERS’ WEBSITE

BUY DEATH AND THE SINGING BIRDS ON AMAZON

Unveiling the Past

Meghan DeFord and Sean Eagle are married cold case detectives who usually work together, but are now working separate cases in different cities. Meghan is teamed up with another detective, trying to help a woman find her father, who vanished without a trace. Sean is continuing to work a case of two missing boys and is teamed with a detective who is troubled and lashing out. At the same time, Meghan has decided to try and make contact with her father, who has never been in her life. She consults her mother, Diane, about the best way to approach him.

This is an interesting Christian mystery with a solid message of God’s love and forgiveness. I really enjoyed the interactions between Meghan’s mother and grandmother (and their three dachshunds). However, there are times when it seems that things are tied up too neatly and quickly. I have seen God work this way, but it usually takes time. There is also a little conflict in my opinion between the way Meghan describes her mother and the way Diane is actually portrayed. Meghan describes her as unmotherly early in the book, and she is one of the reasons that Meghan doesn’t want to become a Mom. However, in the book, Diane is portrayed as a delightful person who is very dedicated to her daughter. She is briefly portrayed as a stressed single Mom early in the book. Since the DeFord women were first introduced in the novel Bringing Maggie Home in 2017, that conflict may have been resolved in that book.

The two mysteries are interesting and engaging, and the personalties of all the detectives are explored.

If you enjoy Christian mysteries, you will enjoy this book. I suggest reading Bringing Maggie Home first.

Three and a half stars, rounded up to four.

Link to the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Unveiling-Past-Kim-Vogel-Sawyer-ebook/dp/B07WQPLWBR/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=unveiling+the+past&qid=1603651270&sr=8-1

Link to the author’s Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Kim-Vogel-Sawyer/e/B001H6GWJY?ref_=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000

Link to my Goodreads review (Please Like and Follow if you are so inclined): https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3607519136?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1