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Family Matters by Joel Rosenberg

Publisher: Forge Books ISBN: 0765304996

Reviewed by Donna Padilla

Ernest "Sparky" Hemingway is conned by the mayor into becoming Chief of Police in Hardwood, North Dakota.  Since Hardwood is in one of the counties being considered as the location for a new trauma center, the failing town will begin to grow and will need a more mature Chief than the present one.  With the competition going hot and heavy, Hardwood's mayor and a politician in a neighboring small town are spreading rumors to put the other town in a bad light.  But these rumors are damaging some family reputations and must be stopped by Chief Hemingway.

This is not so much a mystery, as more of a character study of these delightful and eccentric characters that make their second appearance in this engaging trilogy.  Readers who enjoyed HOME FRONT will want to read this one for further analysis of the major characters,  Hemingway especially since he is a hard headed mouthy wise ass.  So while the mystery itself is almost secondary, this still comes recommended for its witty and wily characterizations.  

 

Hasty Death By Marion Chesney

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312304536

Reviewed by C.J.Curry

Lady Rose Summer is a young woman ahead of her time. While her parents, the Earl and Countess of Hadshire, keep a very tight rein on their twenty year old daughter, Lady Rose is determined to venture out into the working world. She and her lady’s maid, Daisy Levine have trained to be typists and desire to gain positions of employment outside Rose’s family home in Eaton Square. The Earl has an idea to employ Captain Harry Cathcart, operator of a Private Investigations office. Cathcart has been useful to the Earl in the past and just might prove to be useful again. However, instead of coming up with a plan to thwart the girl’s wishes, Cathcart proposes allowing the girls to take positions with a friend of his. Peter Drevey is a merchant banker and if the Earl will agree to pay the salaries for the two girls, Drevey will ’employ’ them. And Captain Cathcart will keep a discreet eye on them. “Well”, says the Earl, “Lady Polly and I want to vacation in Nice and it will be better than putting Rose in the insane asylum”, which seemed to be the fashion of the day.

Daisy Levine was an ex-chorus girl and knew the ropes and so the two adventurers were soon set up in a dreary third floor walk-up room. Things were much more difficult than Rose had ever imagined in her life of privilege. And the bank was only giving them ’make’ work to do. After a kidnapping and several other harrowing experiences, Rose has had enough of the working world. So when an acquaintance is murdered Rose jumps at the chance to move back to Eaton Square . Hoping to be able to solve the murder ahead of Captain Cathcart, Rose is anxious to get back into society. But Rose just can’t please her parents and stay out of trouble so she faces very dire consequences. Were it not for Daisy, Captain Cathcart and his manservant, Becket, she might possibly spend her days in a place where she wouldn’t want to be.

I do like the Agatha Raisin series but I don’t care for the Hamish MacBeth books. And Lady Rose and Captain Cathcart fall somewhere in between the two. This story would make a good Young Adult Victorian Romance. However do young adults read Victorian Romances anymore? As an Edwardian Murder Mystery for adults, I felt it left a lot to be desired. Lady Rose seemed a little ‘too’ willful and stubborn, and Captain Cathcart seemed a little ’too’ rash and standoffish. Perhaps with a little more thought and development it will be a good series after all. I hope so as it has ‘good bones’.