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A Certain Darkness–could WWI have ended sooner?
A Certain Darkness
by Anna Lee Huber
Lord Ardmore—a good name for an evil person. Although he is not physically present in A Certain Darkness, his influence and machinations pervade the events of this spy novel. Verity Kent and her husband Sidney are a rich and glamorous couple who are both well known in the intelligence circle for undercover work for the British during WWI. Sidney is also a war hero. In this book, they are once more called into service by their country to discover potentially damaging evidence.
In this action packed drama, Verity and Sidney don’t know whom to trust as they try to uncover how a murder occurred on a train and in a jail cell without anyone seeing either crime. Verity is a polyglot, a helpful skill as the couple interacts with French, German, Dutch, and Flemish speakers. One of my favorite scenes involves Verity speaking in their language to someone who is previously unaware that she can understand their conversations with others—rather embarrassing for the speaker.
The plot is complicated because the events that occurred during and after the war are quite complex. Just when I thought I wasn’t enjoying the book because of the intricate historical references, the action and intrigue picked up and I couldn’t wait to read what would happen next.
Both characters suffer from the horrors and stresses of the war, but there are some mental and emotional breakthroughs for both of them in this book. Whereas in the first book I read in the series (#2) I found the couple rather frivolous, I have come to like and respect both of them as I have gotten to know them better. There has also been more character development with each book. If you are interested in history or like spy mysteries, you will enjoy this series including A Certain Darkness. It closes out with a very important hook that will keep me and other readers anxious to read the next book in the series.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Category: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Notes: 1. #6 in the Verity Kent Mystery Series. I do not recommend this book as a standalone. There is just too much necessary background provided in the previous books.
3. One of the themes of this book concerns the ending of WWI. I did an Internet search on this topic and found this is a concern for some historians. In her introduction, Huber lists a recently published nonfiction book on this subject that she used as a resource for her fiction book.
Publication: August 30, 2022—Kensington
Much of intelligence gathering in general was accepting that there were few total victories, few clear choices of right and wrong. Everything was shaded in gray. One had to make judgment calls, constantly wagering possible sacrifices versus gains. Sometimes you got it right and sometimes you got it wrong. But whatever the outcome, you had to swallow the guilt and disgust such decisions and compromises at times wrought.
I recognized what game he was playing, for he’d learned it from the best. After all, Lord Ardmore didn’t simply aim to outwit his opponents, but to corrupt and demoralize them. To turn them against themselves, against their very morals.
“I’d accepted long ago that the war was utterly senseless.” His voice rasped as if being dragged from the depths of his lungs. “That I was simply stuck. Just a little cog in a great monstrous machine that couldn’t be stopped and would one day consume me as well.”
In Peppermint Peril–tea and mysteries
In Peppermint Peril
by Joy Avon
We’ve got a new cozy mystery series for Christmas and to start out the new year. Joy Avon brings her heroine, Callie Aspen, back from a busy career as a tour guide traveling the world to her hometown of Heart’s Harbor where her Aunt Iphy runs the Book Tea Shop, a delightful place for a cup of something hot and an edible treat containing a book related clue.
Although there are lots of interesting characters, the plot’s the thing as this mystery evolves from a tea party hosted by ninety-three year old Dorothea Finster, mistress at Haywood Hall. Everyone who attends has different expectations and some result in criminal mayhem. There are romances and friendships old and new, a cake with several layers of mystery, a cute rescue dog, and political and financial shenanigans.
Usually I can take or leave recipes at the end of a cozy mystery. In Peppermint Peril doesn’t have any, but in this case I would have enjoyed a recipe for a creation that Aunt Iphy calls “The Duel” because it has “two pastries vying to be the tastiest” on the same plate. Both feature chocolate! One has a light brown base and a beige mousse that incorporates salted caramel. It is topped with a chocolate chip cookie and roasted nuts; is is soft and crispy at the same time. The other has a dark chocolate foundation and fresh raspberries topped with white chocolate. It sounds like a delicious masterpiece of culinary creativity just made for the person who wants a taste of more than one dessert on the menu.
Callie does a lot of talking to ferret out the criminal, and she works in conjunction with local Deputy Falk. He shares more about the case than he should to try to deter her from the dangerous investigation, but Callie just becomes more determined to solve the mystery and refuses to stay out of harm’s way.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Crooked Lane Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: #1 in the Book Tea Shop Mystery Series
Publication: November 23, 2018—Crooked Lane Books
The world around her looked like it had come straight out of a fairy tale illustration; trees laced with frost; every stem of grass, every branch and bramble powdered with the snow that had fallen last night and had been scattered by the strong wind.
Still single herself and uncertain whether she’d ever have a family, Callie could relate to the feeling. At times she felt perfectly happy with her life, and then suddenly she felt something missing and wanted to change everything.
Tick-tock. The relentless rhythm of time. Reminding them of a lot of years that had slipped away and all the time that had not been spent with people it could have been spent with.