The Angel’s Trumpet: Nineteenth Century Historical Legal Thriller and Mystery (Portia of the Pacific Book 4) by James Musgrave – A #BookReview

An Historical Legal Thriller review by the CE.

The Angel's Trumpet by James MusgraveBook Blurb:

An 1887 Handmaid Gets Her Revenge in This Superb Historical Legal Thriller and Mystery

Author Margaret Atwood creates a dystopian future in The Handmaid’s Tale.  James Musgrave’s sexist dystopia is based on fact.  

Attorney Clara Foltz’s California legal team is chosen by President Grover Cleveland to defend a mulatto suffragette who has assassinated his Supreme Court nominee, Justice Marshal Owens.  When her client is found dead in the jail cell, the hunt begins for the killer.

“James Musgrave’s The Angel’s Trumpet is one of those rare historical mysteries that is both entirely plausible and yet truly original.   A richly researched adventure into the complex social web of Gilded Age Washington, featuring deeply-realized and re-imagined luminaries including actress Sarah Bernhardt and President and Mrs. Cleveland, the novel is also surprisingly modern in its sensibilities, a compelling romp into an earlier era’s struggle with addiction and vice and secrecy and race relations, and, most of all, hidden sources of power.  You will read this book in one sitting–and you will be very glad that you did.  A meticulously-plotted gem from a master of the genre.”   Jacob M. Appel, author of the Dundee International Book Award winner, The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up.

His Review:

The Angel's Trumpet by James MusgraveExplore late 19th Century life in our nation’s capital in this intriguing mystery. Grover Cleveland and his young wife are intricately involved in the plot. When a young woman stabs to death a Supreme Court nominee and waits to watch him die, the intrigue expands.

Clara Shortridge Foltz is chosen to defend the killer who is caught red-handed with her hand on the knife. Immediately the question of why comes to mind: Clara is described as a three-time loser in defending clients. Should be an open and shut case then, right?

Add in other historical figures from this time period including the Divine Ms. Sarah Bernhardt and Susan B. Anthony and the narrative becomes a political basketball.

Enjoy a ride through the Suffragette movement, the kidnapping of a President’s wife and a sinister plot to destroy evidence and the defendants, and you have a real page-turner. Washington, DC during this time period was certainly not a place you would want to live!

The characters are well developed and exhibit independence of character clearly missing in many women of that time period. They are looked down upon by most of the males in this book. Washington DC is described as a place where a negro needed to go if they wanted to succeed. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is declaring some legislation unconstitutional to reverse desegregation legislation during the post-civil war era.

CE WilliamsThe end product is a microcosm of the problems facing the population during that time period. Many of those problems still linger today but it is a pleasure to revisit that era and reinspect the issues.

We received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley in anticipation of an honest review and these are my independent opinions. 5/5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Legal Thrillers, African American Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense, Assassination Thriller
Publisher: EMRE Publishing

  • ISBN-10:1943457395
  • ISBN-13:978-1943457397
  • ASIN: B07XGDB4KX

Print Length: 202 pages
Publication Date: January 1, 2020
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library
Title Link: The Angel’s Trumpet
Find the Angel’s Trumpet at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound.org

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

James Musgrave - authorThe Author: James Musgrave was born in Fall River, Massachusetts. He taught as a Professor of English and worked as a Supervisor, Management Development at Caltech, Pasadena and at various San Diego colleges. He is now the author and publisher at EMRE Publishing, LLC in San Diego. He has won many writing awards, and his mysteries are “featured selections” by the American Library Association. He was also a Finalist in the Bram Stoker Awards, First Place Award for Best Historical Mystery in the Chanticleer International Book Awards, and a Finalist in the Heekin Fellowship.

Please contact the author at: jamesmusgrave2122@att.net
Sign-up for the Author’s Newsletter at: emrepublishing.com

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

The Master’s Apprentice (A Re-Telling of the Faust Legend) by Oliver Pötzsch – a #BookReview #historicalfantasy

A review by the CE of Book 1 in a new series of #renaissancehistoricalfiction

The Master's Apprentice by Oliver PotzschBook Blurb:

A young man’s destined quest becomes a dance with the devil in a mesmerizing retelling of the Faust legend by the bestselling author of the Hangman’s Daughter Tales series.

It’s the fifteenth century and only heretics are curious about the universe.

Germany, 1494. Born under a rare alignment of the stars, Johann Georg Gerlach, “the lucky one” to his mother—is fated for greatness. But Johann’s studies and wonder at the sky have made him suspect. Especially in wake of the child disappearances that have left the God-fearing locals trembling and his one true love trapped in terrified catatonia. Her only words: “I have seen the devil…”

Banished from Knittlingen as cursed, Johann crosses paths with Tonio del Moravia. The traveling fortune-teller and master of the arcane arts recognizes something extraordinary in the wanderer. Taking Johann under his wing, Tonio promises a new world of knowledge and sensations. But with it comes a sinister web of deception and a chilling prophecy.

The stars are set to align again. Now Johann must draw on the skills of his apprenticeship to solve the dark mystery that grips his village in fear and the deepening mystery of his own destiny.

His Review:

The Master's Apprentice by Oliver PotzschJohann Georg was born as a result of a triste between his beautiful mother and a stranger. His father hated him. His mother called him Faustus (the lucky one) born under a lucky star. His father despised him and gave him no fatherly love. At eight years he meets our villain, Tonio, and his life is forever cursed by this devil personified.

Oliver Pötzsch has captured the essence of life in the middle ages and the turmoil that was Europe. His translation of the writing regarding Faust is laudable. His translator, Lisa Reinhardt, makes the German language come to life in English.

Europe is a cesspool of intrigue and disease. How anyone survived is totally a mystery. Devil worship abounds and the church with its’ Inquisitors does it’s best to stamp out any but the “true religion.” Johann is blessed with a great mind and tremendously inquisitive instinct. The devil knows that he will be a great addition to his earthly realm.

CE WilliamsCannibalism and vampires have nothing on this story! Become engrossed in a life of struggle, travel which is near impossible, and villains of the first magnitude. Weep with the characters in this story as they overcome enormous hardships to they struggle through life. Does good always triumph over evil? Dive into this narrative and seek the answer. CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Renaissance Historical Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Historical Mystery
Publisher: Amazon Crossing

  • ISBN-10:1542009987
  • ISBN-13:978-1542009980
  • ASIN: B07WGDKKYC

Print Length: 475+ pages
Publication Date: To be released April 28, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Master’s Apprentice
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Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Oliver Potzsch - authorThe Author: (Amazon) Oliver Pötzsch, born in 1970, has worked for years as a scriptwriter for Bavarian television. He himself is a descendant of one of Bavaria’s leading dynasties of executioners. He lives in Munich with his family. Photo © Dominik Parzinger.

(Goodreads) Oliver Pötzsch is a German writer and filmmaker. After high school he attended the German School of Journalism in Munich from 1992 to 1997. He then worked for Radio Bavaria. In addition to his professional activities in radio and television, Pötzsch researched his family history. He is a descendant of the Kuisle, from the 16th to the 19th Century a famous dynasty of executioners in Schongau.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Bucket’s Brigade (A Charley Field Victorian Mystery Book 2) by Gary Blackwood – a #BookReview #historicalfiction

First Book Review of the Year!

Bucket's Brigade by Gary BlackwoodBook Blurb:

The dauntless Inspector Charley Field, protagonist of “Bucket’s List” and inspiration for Dickens’ Inspector Bucket, is relishing the newfound success of his private enquiry agency. But success isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Instead of the minor-league mysteries he’s accustomed to–lost dogs and fake accident victims and such–he’s begun to attract some cases that are very high profile . . . not to mention dangerous.

For example, there’s the matter of Alfred Twickham, only son of railroad magnate Sir Roger Twickham. Kidnapped as a child and given up for dead, Alfred has struggled for decades to survive in the gold fields of Australia. Now he’s resurfaced in London, determined to claim his inheritance. Charley is asked to investigate the man by his friend Miss Treville, the young and attractive newspaper reporter, who claims that Alfred is an impostor and an all-round unpleasant bloke. And it begins to look as if she’s right—especially when she mysteriously disappears.

As Charley tries desperately to find her and to get the goods on Alfred, he’s sidetracked by several other troublemakers: a theatre manager who steals plays from authors (including the soon-to-be-famous Wilkie Collins); a philandering husband with a gypsy girlfriend; and an acid-throwing villain who preys on prostitutes and actresses. To make matters worse, Charley’s wife has become hooked on McMunn’s Elixir, a patent medicine that consists largely of opium.

Many of the secondary characters from the first novel make a return appearance in “Bucket’s Brigade”: the naive but eager Constable Mull; the former counterfeiter known as The Scarecrow; the alluring but untrustworthy Julia Fairweather; the winsome orphan, Audrey–and, of course, the Great Man himself, Mr. Dickens.

My Thoughts

My first review of the year and it’s a historical fiction novel! And a douzy at that! I can’t imagine the time spent on research, but it shows.

Bucket's Brigade by Gary BlackwoodThis one gets right back into the Dickensonian era, that famous English author of the Victorian times. The former Inspector Charley Field is no longer an Inspector but head of his own private inquiry agency. He was dealing with penny-ante stuff which has now escalated into more challenging cases. And these are as widely varied as he could hope for. But are they all solvable?

Charley Field is indefinable, somewhat middle-aged, and a former pugilist. Not like he’s gotten soft, more like he’s just slowed somewhat. What we do know is that he’s in a marriage now more convenient than lusty and that he cultivated a range of contacts very helpful in his former official position. His reputation exceeds him and he doesn’t mind still being thought an inspector.

This is not the dedicated kind of mystery you might expect, but a list of pointed investigations that will keep him and his (new) associate busy, some of which pay better than others. And the stilted ole English vernacular is rather off-putting–at first. Then, for some unfathomable reason, becomes delightful and a full smorgasbord of Victorian words, sayings, habits, along with an immersive peek into Victorian London, right down to the moral attitude of the period. Charley’s alter ego, Inspector Bucket (of Dickens fame), often rules the moment. Some of the sporting activities were…GROSS (rat-baiting??!)

At conclusion, does the wily PI put more checks in the win column than the “List of Wrongdoers Who Got Away?” Ooh, there are several in that column, including the person who peddled that elixir to his wife. The dialogue is a hoot, give it a chance. The characters are not wholly fleshed. I suspect we’ll learn more in Book 3, but Charley Field is a delightful and interesting, engaging protagonist and leads a well-plotted multi-layered mystery that is sure to keep your interest. My only problem was the uneven formatting.

I received this digital download directly from the author and enjoyed the read. Recommended for any who enjoys historical fiction in a complex and unusual presentation of jargon. Among the prose, it’ll bring you a few chuckles and memorable terms and phrases along with some history. (Thinking I won’t soon forget that slap-bang was an original term for what sounds to me like fast food. Loved it!)

His Thoughts

Crime is rampant in the late 1800s in England. Former police inspector Charlie Field opens a detective agency after leaving the police force. He is approached by young and attractive damsels in distress. They need his help to ally suspicions concerning their relationships. Add in an acid throwing maniac and you have the makings of a very entertaining novel.

Widows, some very young, are left with fortunes by older and recently deceased husbands. A remarkable group of miscreants attempt to separate them from their inheritance. One is a long-lost son who has come back from Australia to claim his birthright. Having left home at an early age it is hard to prove his actual identity.

This author handles these and a myriad of other situations in a very entertaining manner. The attempt at writing as if from a different era made parts of the book a bit tedious, however, that was overcome with a very intricate plot. It is fun to read. 4 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
ASIN: B0813XMJN2
Print Length: 342 pages
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: Bucket’s Brigade

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 Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Gary Blackwood - authorThe Author: Gary Blackwood has published 35 novels and nonfiction books for young readers and most notably The Shakespeare Stealer (Dutton) which was on the American Library Association’s list of Notable Books and Best Books for Young Adults and has been translated into numerous other languages. He only recently crossed over into adult books with Bucket’s List, the first Charley Field mystery.  I’m also a widely produced playwright.  I grew up in Pennsylvania and moved around a lot before setting down on the beautiful North Shore of Nova Scotia.

©2019 V Williams V Williams