The Clockwork Girl by Anna Mazzola #bookreview @1stMondayCrime @Anna_Mazz

On my blog today, I have all the details about this month’s First Monday Crime which is taking place tonight live on their Facebook Page at 19.30 p.m. UK time. But before I reveal more about tonight’s event, I have reviewed The Clockwork Girl by Anna Mazzola who’ll be appearing on tonight’s panel.

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Paris, 1750.

In the midst of an icy winter, as birds fall frozen from the sky, chambermaid Madeleine Chastel arrives at the home of the city’s celebrated clockmaker and his clever, unworldly daughter.

Madeleine is hiding a dark past, and a dangerous purpose: to discover the truth of the clockmaker’s experiments and record his every move, in exchange for her own chance of freedom.

For as children quietly vanish from the Parisian streets, rumours are swirling that the clockmaker’s intricate mechanical creations, bejewelled birds and silver spiders, are more than they seem.

And soon Madeleine fears that she has stumbled upon an even greater conspiracy. One which might reach to the very heart of Versailles…

A intoxicating story of obsession, illusion and the price of freedom.

MY THOUGHTS

The Clockwork Girl is a stunning novel by Anna Mazzola. I was transported to the streets of eighteenth century Paris. This is actually the first novel I’ve read by Anna Mazzola, but the blurb, and, I have to say, the brilliant cover drew me in, and I’m so pleased I’ve read it. Anna creates such a rich sense of place and atmosphere in her writing, which really made the setting come to life as it is viewed through the eyes of her characters. It’s what makes this book a novel to savour.

There is a haunting quality to this story and Anna Mazzola’s writing draws you effortlessly into the world she has created. Of course this is historical fiction, but there is a real sense of mystery to Anna’s plot, and Anna keeps the suspense ticking up a notch. We meet Madeleine, a young woman who has taken up a position in the household of a famous clockmaker in Paris. But Madeleine is there for an altogether different reason. There have been strange events happening all over Paris, and Madeleine is there to investigate the clockmaker, and see if there is any connection between him and what has been happening.

There are so many fascinating characters in Anna’s novel, and she really delves deep into their personalities, bringing them to life. Madeleine and the clockmaker intrigued me the most. As Madeleine becomes acquainted with her new position, Anna draws on the sense of mystery about the clockmaker, and it certainly feels as though he is hiding something. You can see clearly her determination to get to the bottom of what is going on behind the scenes, and this did make me wonder how much danger she was putting herself in, in her quest to get to the truth.

As the plot progresses, Anna whisks us away to the court of King Louis XV of France. It is here where the tension in the story is really turned up a notch, as Madeleine seeks to uncover what is happening. I really liked how Anna Mazzola used real life historical figures in her novel, and this includes, along with the King, his famous mistress, Madame De Pompadour and they both have significant roles in the story. It does make you feel as though you are reading about real events, even though this is fiction, and that is the brilliance of Anna Mazzola’s plot. It makes you even more invested in the characters and I wanted to see what the outcome was going to be for them at the end of the novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Clockwork Girl and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for whatever Anna Mazzola writes next. It is an utterly immersive read.

Publisher: Orion

Publication date: 3rd March 2022

Print length: 362 pages

The Clockwork Girl is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

First Monday Crime is taking place tonight live on their Facebook at 19.30 p.m. Alongside Anna Mazzola we have Simone Buckholz author of, River Clyde, Lizzie Barber author of Out of Her Depth and Gytha Lodge author of Little Sister. If you would like to watch the event, you can do so by clicking on the link below which will take you through to the First Monday Crime Facebook Page.

First Monday Crime

Fortune Favours the Dead by Stephen Spotswood #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on Fortune Favours the Dead by Stephen Spotswood.

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New York, 1945. Lillian Pentecost is the most successful private detective in the city, but her health is failing. She hires an assistant to help with the investigative legwork. Willowjean Parker is a circus runaway. Quick-witted and street-smart, she’s a jack-of-all-trades with a unique skill-set. She can pick locks blindfolded, wrestle men twice her size, and throw knives with deadly precision – all of which come in handy working for Ms P.

When wealthy young widow Abigail Collins is murdered and the police are making no progress, Pentecost and Parker are hired by the family to track down the culprit. On Halloween night, there was a costume party at the Collins’ mansion, where a fortune teller performed a séance which greatly disturbed Abigail. Several hours later her body was discovered bludgeoned to death in her late husband’s office. Problem is, the door to the office was locked from the inside. There was no-one else in the room, and the murder weapon was beside the victim; the fortune teller’s crystal ball.

It looks like an impossible crime, but Pentecost and Parker know there is no such thing…

MY THOUGHTS

Fortune Favours the Dead by Stephen Spotswood is a classic murder mystery perfect for Sherlock Holmes fans. Told from the point of view of Willowjean Parker, there are echoes of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous character, Watson, Holmes’s sidekick.

Will comes from a very unusual background, having once been in the circus. The detective, Lillian Pentecost, takes Will under her wing after she saved her life. Lillian is famous across the country. They soon become involved in a high profile case after a well-known, wealthy family employs her. They are employed to solve the murder of Abigail Collins. Abigail was killed during a Halloween Party at her family home, having been bludgeoned to death following a Séance. The police have so far failed to find any trace of the killer. The family put their trust in Lillian and Will.

I loved the spooky atmosphere of this piece. With the Séance, there is a hint of the supernatural, which is what I really liked about this book. It added to the mystery element really well. I really liked how Stephen Spotswood explored this aspect of the plot as the novel progressed.

The novel takes place in 1946 in New York, just towards the end of the Second World War. The setting and the historical element, for me, made it feel very fresh. I really liked how Stephen Spotswood brought mid-twentieth-century New York to life.

This was such an absorbing read. Both Lillian and Will’s characters are brought to life really well by Stephen Spotswood. I liked the relationship they had together, and you can see how much they trust one another. Will also really cares for Lillian, particularly as she has multiple sclerosis. Will is always keen to make sure that she doesn’t do too much. I was gripped by the mystery in the book. I wanted to find out what was really going on the night of Abigail Collins’s death. I also wanted to know if Lillian and Will would be able to solve it. The story moves along quickly and I the Stephen Spotswood kept the pace flying forward.

Fortune Favours the Dead is an entertaining mystery novel which will keep you invested in the characters. I’m really hoping that they’re going to return in future books. I really enjoyed it.

Publisher: Wildfire

Publication date: 12th November 2020

Print length: 336 pages

Fortune Favours the Dead is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones