Tag Archives: Regency England

The Sculthorpe Murder by Karen Charlton

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The Sculthorpe Murder by Karen Charlton The Sculthorpe Murder by Karen Charlton
Narrator: Michael Page
Series: Detective Lavender Mysteries #3
Published by Brilliance Audio on August 30, 2016
Source: Purchased
Genres: Historical Mystery
Length: 9 hrs 37 mins
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon or Audible
Add on Goodreads

Northamptonshire, 1810: As a new canal network snakes across the landscape, a vicious mob stakes its claim to the county. Every local constable is out on the hunt for the ruthless Panther Gang. When an elderly man is robbed and murdered in sleepy Middleton, the beleaguered magistrates send for help from London’s Bow Street Police Office.

Detective Stephen Lavender and Constable Ned Woods soon discover there’s more to William Sculthorpe’s demise than meets the eye. Mystery surrounds the old man and his family, and the stench of revenge hangs heavy in the air. Are the Panther Gang really responsible or is something more sinister afoot? As Lavender delves further into long-hidden secrets, Woods has demons of his own to contend with: ghosts from his past that stalk him through the investigation.

Uncovering decades of simmering hatred and deceit, Lavender and Woods must use all their wit and cunning to solve this evil crime.

I enjoyed The Sculthorpe Murder so much more than #2 in the series. Lavender and Woods are sent out of London to Northamptonshire to investigate the killing of an elderly man, presumably by a gang that has been terrorizing the area. I like that the trip takes Lavender away from his love interest. I really can only stand them as a couple for short periods of time.

The plot was well-done with a good array of suspects and clues. I like that Lavender doesn’t take things for granted and as an outsider can be more suspicious of certain people than the locals are.

Wood gets a lot of screen time in this one, which I appreciated. He’s a good, kind man and I liked his interactions with                                           . (Don’t want to give anything away.) He tends to put people, including children at ease. Lavender, on the other hand, tends to make people a bit uncomfortable. He’s the thinker where Woods is the talker. Together they make a good team.

The secondary characters are all a bit shady, actually. Most, if not all, have their secrets, some more criminal than others. I do think the ending was appropriate, although perhaps not in the typical, wrap it up, punish the guilty way.

I listened to the audio and the narrator does a good job with the varied characters. He disappears into the story, which is what I’m looking for.

The Sculthorpe Murder is a solid historical mystery. It feels like the details are well done – whether they actually are or not I can’t judge, I’m assuming they are. In this one, I especially found the conflict between the Catholics and Church of England interesting. I’m not a history buff, I admit, but I do enjoy it when bits are thrown into the stories I’m reading. Once in a while, they even make me want to learn more about the subject.

I’m actually looking forward to the next in the series, although I hope it doesn’t get taken over by Lavender’s marriage.

About Karen Charlton

Karen Charlton writes historical mystery and is also the author of a nonfiction genealogy book, ‘Seeking Our Eagle.’ She has published short stories and numerous articles and reviews in newspapers and magazines. An English graduate and ex-teacher, Karen has led writing workshops and has spoken at a series of literary events across the North of England, where she lives. Karen now writes full-time.

A stalwart of the village pub quiz and a member of a winning team on the BBC quiz show ‘Eggheads’, Karen also enjoys the theatre, and she won a Yorkshire Tourist Board award for her Murder Mystery Weekends.

Audiobook Review: Mrs. Budley Falls from Grace by Marion Chesney

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Mrs. Budley's

Title: Mrs. Budley Falls from Grace (The Poor Relations #3)

Author: Marion Chesney

Reader: Davina Porter

Category: Romance- Historical

Audio Published: June 1, 2012 by AudioGo (First published 1993)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Add: Goodreads

Purchase: Amazon

Lucy Budley, one of the indigent gentlefolk who pooled their resources to create the Poor Relation Hotel, is prompted by her co-proprietors to travel to Delacourt Castle in Warwickshire. Once there, they plan, she will pretend to be a distant relative and relieve the dotty old Marquess of Peterhouse of enough trinkets to support herself back in London. The plot is foiled, however, when the old Marquess dies and is replaced by his sharp-witted and darkly handsome nephew. Exposed as a liar, the widow Budley tells all and begs his forgiveness, only to discover that the new Marquess may have plans for her; he needs a wife to keep both prying neighbors and ambitious London mothers at bay.

In Mrs. Budley Falls from Grace by Marion Chesney, the proprietors of The Poor Relation hotel are, once again, in need of funds and this time it’s Mrs. Budley’s turn. However, since she has no relations who will welcome her to their home, Sir Philip sends her off to a stranger’s home, Delacourt Castle, but the plan immediately falls apart and Mrs. Budley tells the whole story to the Marquess.

That’s our couple, Mrs. Budley and Peterhouse. Mrs.Budley is not an entirely inappropriate match for him. She does have a family pedigree, even though she’s now “in trade,” but it actually takes him a while to decide he’s in love with her. He forgets about her, more or less, after her visit but then meets her again in London. Of course, they are attracted, but society and people keep them apart. I do have to say I liked Sir Philip in this one, until the end at least. He may have his own selfish reasons but he does everything in his power to promote the romance between Mrs. Budley and Peterhouse.

There is also a side plot regarding the well-known French chef at the restaurant and some typical shenanigans. It’s an enjoyable read, although I perhaps liked this one a little less than the first two. The story was fine and the romance sweet, but there too many moments when the author stepped out of the story to give us a pointed remark about society at that time. I can’t think of any specific examples, but it was something like: “Mrs. Budley was _______________, as were so many women of the time,” and it rather annoyed me.

The Poor Relation Series

  1. Lady Fortescue Steps Out
  2. Miss Tonks Turns to Crime
  3. Mrs. Budley Falls from Grace
  4. Sir Philip’s Folly
  5. Colonel Sandhurst to the Rescue
  6. Back in Society

Audiobook Review: Miss Tonks Turns to Crime by Marion Chesney

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Miss Tonks turns to crime

Miss Tonks turns to crime

Title: Miss Tonks Turns to Crime (The Poor Relations #2)

Author: Marion Chesney

Reader: Davina Porter

Category: Romance- Historical

Audio Published: May 8, 2012 by AudioGo (First published April 1993)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Add: Goodreads

Purchase: Amazon

The oddly assorted group met some time ago. All of them were poor relations, the genteel paupers of society, living on little more than their dignity. They banded together and started The Poor Relation hotel, hoping to be bought out by their embarrassed relations, but as the hotel prospered, they began to enjoy the fruits of their labor. But once more they are in need of funds. To stoop to crime in their days of poverty was one thing, but to turn to it again when they have enjoyed a certain amount of success is quite another. But they all agree. The hotel must go on. And so poor, faded Miss Tonks has been persuaded to steal something valuable enough from her rich sister to set the poor relations on their feet. They all have their doubts about Miss Tonks’ chances for success, but the shy spinster has more than a few surprises in store.

I mentioned the other day that I like predictable stories, and this one definitely fits the bill. Once again, the proprietors of The Poor Relation hotel are in need of funds and Miss Tonks Turns to Crime. She is sent out to steal something from her rich sister. Hopefully, one day the hotel will provide enough income that the group won’t need to turn to crime, but I’m not holding my breath, it is after all a convenient plot piece.

Miss Tonks heads out to her sister’s. The sister is awful, but the niece is a darling young woman. The brother-in-law is not horrible either, just held under the sister’s thumb. Miss Tonks comes up with a plan to dress as a highway man and rob the sister’s carriage on her way to a ball. Unfortunately, she holds up the wrong carriage and ends up revealing her entire plan to the local very eligible gentleman, Lord Eston. Instead of turning her in however, he robs the sister for her, stealing a kiss from the niece at the same time.

So, that’s the couple this time around, the niece and Lord Eston. The niece runs away from home, determined to work at the hotel, but of course, they keep coming into contact with Lord Eston. There’s some dithering around. some shenanigans. She’s not suitable. He’s stuck up. Turmoil at the hotel. All in all it’s a pleasant listen, not breath-taking or even memorable but enjoyable enough to work in the yard or do laundry to. Davina Porter was also the reader for the first in the series and she does a good job. She never lets it become over-blown. She keeps it light and amusing.

I’m listening to the third in the series now, and the formula’s the same, but in this case I think that’s a good thing. I know what to expect from these stories and I enjoy them, although they’re probably not everyone’s cup of tea.

The Poor Relation Series

  1. Lady Fortescue Steps Out
  2. Miss Tonks Turns to Crime
  3. Mrs. Budley Falls from Grace
  4. Sir Philip’s Folly
  5. Colonel Sandhurst to the Rescue
  6. Back in Society
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