Book Review: Murder on Black Swan Lane by Andrea Penrose
Book Review: Murder on Black Swan Lane by Andrea Penrose
Series Number: 1
Published: 27 Jun.
Page Count: 304
In Regency London, an unconventional scientist and a fearless female artist form an unlikely alliance to expose unspeakable evil . . . The Earl of Wrexford possesses a brilliant scientific mind, but boredom and pride lead him to reckless behavior. He does not suffer fools gladly. So when pompous, pious Reverend Josiah Holworthy publicly condemns him for debauchery, Wrexford unsheathes his rapier-sharp wit and strikes back. As their war of words escalates, London’s most popular satirical cartoonist, A.J. Quill, skewers them both. But then the clergyman is found slain in a church—his face burned by chemicals, his throat slashed ear to ear—and Wrexford finds himself the chief suspect
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One of the few non-fantasy/sci-fi types of books I read, and pretty much the only crime genre I read without any fantasy or elements in is historical fiction, primarily Victorian or Regency era like Murder on Black Swan Lane.  What can I say? I like Sherlock Holmes, I like Victorian fiction a lot and studied it as part of my English Literature degree. The problem with the classics though is that most of them were written by actual Victorians (funny that :P) and while there are some classic writers I appreciate and admire, they’re still confined by their society. And before someone says ‘well actually…’ and starts to lecture me about so and so being before their time, that’s all well and good, but they don’t write stories with female heroines, do they? Most of the books I read of this genre probably aren’t historically accurate in one way or another, and I’m ok with that because I’m reading for the pleasure of fiction. If I wanted to read something historically accurate then I’d go read actual Victorian or Regency literature.

You might see where this is going; Murder on Black Swan Lane by Andrea Penrose isn’t historically accurate, but it is jolly good fun! What drew me to the book was the unique idea of a mystery novel with one of the crime-fighting duo being an artist. They’re always a Lord or Lady, and if failing that a doctor, or a teacher – someone academic. But an artist? That was different and I like different. I found the story to be quite interesting, and the characters to be well developed and fleshed out with the novel giving just enough information without giving everything away. This is, after all, just book one in a series so I’m sure there are more secrets to unfold as the series goes on and I’m definitely going to be checking out book two.

I read some complaints about the accents of the two young cockney boys, and as someone who hails from London and grew up in a house where cockney rhyming slang was normal, I wanted to talk a bit about them. Normally ‘ye’ is used for Scottish accents in literature, however, in London yes/yeah is pronounced as ‘yeh’. I just read the ‘ye’ as ‘yeh’ in my head automatically because I knew they were cockney, not Scottish. Other than the ‘ye’ everything else about their dialogue was spot on as far as I was concerned.

If any dialogue was a bit off it was Wrexford’s which felt a little too much like every Regency film/period drama I’d ever watched had been used to create his dialogue. But that was just a minor thing that I noticed and honestly if I hadn’t been looking at the language used by the characters I’m not sure I’d have even noticed.

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