Karen Odden comes to the blog with a Victorian-era mystery, full of atmosphere, twists and plenty of tension in
A Dangerous Duet
Nell Hallam has a dream: she wants to leave her upscale yet modest Mayfair home and study piano at the Royal Academy, and she’s diligent in her practice and preparation, even worrying that should she earn her place, there isn’t enough in the coffers for her tuition. While not titled or particularly well-off, Nell’s family is trying to nurture her talent while not allowing her mother’s failures to be revisited on her. See, her mother, also a talented musician, left the family when Nell was a child, a combination of unhappiness and the general diagnosis of ‘mental illness’ for a woman who lived a life where her music was emotionally available and her emotions were frequently on view – something not done in their circle or in that time. So, while her music instructor has been working to perfect her technical skills while keeping her emotions separate, the innate talent that Nell shows could be her way to happiness. But, she’s also determined to gain a place at the Academy, and to earn the funds to pay her tuition. She’s playing with fire when she took a position in Soho at the Octavian, playing piano for the band, in an atmosphere that is far removed from the straight-laced one from which she comes and aspires to.
Sneaking out of the house dressed as a man so as not to alert her brother to her activities, fortunately he’s more absent and occupied in thought than normal, as a newly promoted Inspector at Scotland Yard, his attentions are focused on breaking up a thieves ring that is operating in the city with impunity. Push comes to shove for Nell when she arrives early to practice a bit and overhears some plans that could relate to the case Matthew is so desperate to solve, and has her looking at her one real friend (and crush) Jack, the owner’s son in whole new ways. Having this information could not only be dangerous to Nell’s future at the club, but also has rocked her belief in herself, and has her worrying about her own family history and what she may have ‘inherited’ from her mother.
When you add fog and twisty London streets, a secret and a gang of thieves, the smoky greys of Victorian London just scream out from the pages, with the clever pacing, addition of tension for Nell both personal and professional, and the build to the climax of the story as culprits, agendas and secrets are unearthed, the story is well-paced, easy to read and while not as dark as some other Victorian-era mysteries I’ve read, with the addition of Nell’s rather hopeful romantic feelings for Jack, engagement and enjoyment were highlights here. Something a bit different with the musical twists and the poverty behind the well-heeled façade of Mayfair, the story is well-worth a read.
Title: A Dangerous Duet
Author: Karen Odden
Genre: Historical Mystery, Romantic Elements, Setting: Britain, Victorian
Published by: William Morrow
Published on: 6 November, 2018
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Audio Length: 11 Hours
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This dazzling new Victorian mystery from USA Today bestselling author Karen Odden introduces readers to Nell Hallam, a determined young pianist who stumbles upon the operations of a notorious—and deadly—crime ring while illicitly working as the piano player in a Soho music hall.
Nineteen-year-old Nell Hallam lives in a modest corner of Mayfair with her brother Matthew, an inspector at Scotland Yard. An exceptionally talented pianist, she aspires to attend the Royal Academy; but with tuition beyond their means, Nell sets out to earn the money herself—by playing piano in a popular Soho music hall. And the fact that she will have to disguise herself as a man and slip out at night to do it doesn’t deter her.
Spending evenings at the Octavian is like entering an alternate world, one of lively energy, fascinating performers, raucous patrons—and dark secrets. And when Nell stumbles upon the operations of an infamous crime ring working in the shadows of the music hall, she is drawn into a conspiracy that stretches the length of London. To further complicate matters, she has begun to fall for the hall owner's charismatic son, Jack, who has secrets of his own.
The more Nell becomes a part of the Octavian’s world, the more she risks the relationships with the people she loves. And when another performer is left for dead in an alley as a warning, she realizes her future could be in jeopardy in more ways than one.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.