I had read reviews of Judith Flanders other books, particularly her stories of Victorian life, but hadn’t read any of them, I can’t tell you why since I am obsessed with anything Victorian.  Obviously a major lapse in my reading that I need to correct quickly.   As you know I love to read advance reviews of books and A Cast of Vultures had rave reviews so I thought now would be the time to begin with her mysteries.  This is the third in the series with Samantha Clair as the protagonist.  It is written in the first person and the characters are very believable and draw you into the narrative. A quote from one of my most favorite authors, Louise Penny, in praise of the series on the book jacket: “Hilarious, big-hearted, clever, whip-smart and devious.” That alone would make me pick up the book.

imageJudith Flanders from the book jacket, photo by Clive Barda.

Sam is an editor at a London publishing house, (Judith Flanders spent two decades in publishing!) and we meet her boyfriend, Jake, who is with Scotland Yard (does every English mystery have someone from the “Yard” somehow involved in the story….I think so!) along with other neighbors and co-workers along with squatters, neighbors, garden enthusiasts, et al, (all the characters are well written), who are involved in the plot.  It begins with Sam waking up nursing a horrible hangover to end all hangovers (can we all relate!!!) when people go missing, fires break out, a man is found in the ashes, is it arson or not, (I found Flanders explanation of a fire, the smell, the feel, the closeness, the pull to run to it, really informative and a bit frightening, I hope never to be that close to one!) and goes from there. I enjoyed a journey into the world of publishing, in particular, Sam’s mentoring of Miranda, her Goth assistant, and that the story takes place in London, not my preferred location for English mysteries which would be the English countryside, but I adore London so why not enjoy the read!  The timeframe is contemporary so we can relate to the modern details.

The writing is very intelligent, keeps you guessing, funny at times, deep and poignant at others, a cozy, I don’t think so…it’s a bit too edgy…I really need to review a cozy mystery in the near future, because I do enjoy them, on occasion, as a brain cleanser. This book isn’t filled with blood and gore, it is rather a thoughtful look at how one deals with life, and in this case having a murder thrown into your day.  I hope I have wetted your appetite for a new mystery series, (want more read the book!!!) or perhaps you have already read Judith Flanders other works…if so do share your comments with me and the other followers. Your opinion means a lot to me.  My independent bookstore of choice



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