Book Review: The Mysterious Lady Law

The Mysterious Lady LawThe Mysterious Lady Law, by Robert Appleton (website, twitter).

In a time of grand airships and steam-powered cars, the death of a penniless young maid will hardly make the front page. But part-time airship waitress and music hall dancer Julia Bairstow is shattered by her sister’s murder. When Lady Law, the most notorious private detective in Britain, offers to investigate the case pro bono, Julia jumps at the chance-even against the advice of Constable Al Grant, who takes her protection surprisingly to heart.

Lady Law puts Scotland Yard to shame. She’s apprehended Jack the Ripper and solved countless other cold-case crimes. No one knows how she does it, but it’s brought her fortune, renown and even a title. But is she really what she claims to be-a genius at deducting? Or is Al right and she is not be trusted?

Who exactly is Lady Law? This novella starts dramatically, with the aforementioned detective taking down an attacker at Queen Victoria’s awards ceremony, and continues at a quick pace. Along the way we meet the adventurer Horace Holly, who is drawn into the investigation and becomes suspicious of Lady Law and her methods.

There’s a bit of romance, some steampunk tech for the geek in everyone, and a lot of drama. The final twists were completely unexpected, and the ending was satisfactory. I would have loved to see this be a bit longer, so that I could enjoy it even more.

As this is a novella, I hesitate to give away too much of the plot, as every twist should be discovered by the reader and not in this review. I haven’t read much steampunk fiction, aside from Meljean Brook’s The Iron Duke, but I am impressed with its imagination. I couldn’t put this one down. This is definitely a book worth reading. Pick it up directly from Carina Press or from Amazon’s Kindle Store.

Music: My Lithium & Me (You Can’t Hide the Beat)

Lithium & Me - You Can't Hide BeatThanks to a few friends on Twitter and Facebook, I listened to this fantastic EP at today. It’s billed as a Valentine to David Bowie, and contains cover songs of six Bowie tunes.

1. Criminal World
2. The Man Who Sold the World
3. Lady Grinning Soul
4. Sunday
5. Always Crashing in the Same Car
6. Breaking Glass

The album art is by Rex Ray, well known in the Bowie fan community for his work with DB. (If you’re unfamiliar with the photo on the album cover, the lead singer has done an homage to Screaming Lord Byron from the ‘Blue Jean’ music video, ’84).

I strongly recommend going to listen and download this fantastic EP. Even if you’re not a Bowie fan.

Book review: The Darling Pirate (Belinda Dell)

Trying to get away from a "problem" man in London, Maggie took a job as receptionist in a luxury hotel in Jersey. But the first person she met was a man who was even more of a problem, a rebel who laughed at everything she thought important. Could she ignore him?

The content of this book is highly suitable for the middle grades. That alone should date its contents (pubbed 1974 c. 1969/70). I hate to sound like one of those adult content warnings on the back of a rental DVD, but Maggie only received a handful of kisses throughout the entire book. One was a ‘fierce kiss’ that left a bit to the imagination. The most questionable content involved her parking at a lookout spot with a man she wasn’t fond of, and I found it more questionable for her lack of courage in speaking up to the jerk when she would have rather gone home.

Alain, the rebel referenced in the back cover blurb was ‘le pirate’ referenced in the title. I suppose he was rebellious in that he didn’t follow the expectations of society, but no actual piracy occurred.

The content of the book had a definite UK/Anglo bent – the story takes place on the island of Jersey, off the French coast (much farther from England than I’d originally thought.) Class snobbery abounds in some of the characters, as I had expected. The language itself is particularly English, with the exception of the French spoken by the Jerriais (the people of Jersey are often of French ancestry, apparently, something I didn’t know.) Read aloud, it does rather sound like familiar French, but I’m sure as spoken by a Jerriais, it has its own feel.

The story itself wasn’t too bad, though I found it a bit dull. There wasn’t enough action to keep me interested. I think this one will end up back on the shelf at work. Next up, The Distant Trap!