As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley

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The Flavia de Luce series is a special favorite of mine. If you love cheeky british heroines and a good murder mystery, you don’t want to miss it. As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, by Alan Bradley, is the 6th novel in the series, which started with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

In the 6th installment, Flavia has been sent to some kind of mysterious finishing school in Canada, Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy, where her deceased mother Harriet went to school. The first night, unfortunately, a singed body falls out of the chimney like a blackened mummy, right onto the floor of her bedroom-and no one wants to talk about what might have befallen the poor victim-or who it might be. Something is very suspicious right away, her chaperones to the school are very strange and she can’t make heads or tails of the cryptic messages she keeps getting from her teachers and fellow students. Is there a conspiracy in effect? Who is in on the secret? Who can she trust? What will happen if she asks the wrong person the wrong question?

Our cheeky little heroine isn’t one to shy away from a challenge, however…She’s determined to shake out the truth no matter what danger befalls her in the process.

This series is a top recommendation from me to you…Don’t miss it! And if you do audiobooks, the audiobook for this series is perfectly narrated and very enjoyable. No excuses, start this series!

Bones are Forever by Kathy Reichs

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Forensic Anthropologist Temperance Brennan is back with the 15th installment in the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs, which many of you already know has been in the inspiration for the television series called Bones.

This novel explores Canadian Diamond mining, the underworld of drug dealing and prostitution, and a lineup of dead babies that will leave you in shock and dying to find out what really happened. A simple-minded woman disappears, leaving a dead baby in her apartment, and Temperance and the investigators who make up her usual team have set out to find the woman before the bad guys get to her first…Or perhaps before they realize Temperance is sniffing around and decide to take her out of the equation.

The novels of this series are full of interesting facts and very well-researched, each novel takes Temperance into a new avenue of crime and corruption, bouncing around between Canada and the U.S. and even venturing overseas on occasion. If you like forensic science, you will love this series, and if you have read other novels in the Temperance Brennan series, Bones are Forever will not disappoint.

The Hangman in the Mirror by Kate Cayley

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Francoise Laurent is the 16-year-old daughter of an alcoholic laundress and a drunkard. She wears her fingers down to the bone helping her parents to pay the rent and keep a minimum of food on the table. She dreams of another life, life as a maid, with nice clean dresses and ribbons in her hair. When small pox strikes her household and she is the only survivor, she sees an opportunity to be all that she had ever dreamed of…Maid to Madame Pommereau, the wife of a wealthy fur trader. She humbles herself to the woman and is taken under her wing…But the mistress is very moody and her sharp tongue is almost unbearable at times. One day, Francoise sees the chance to take a pair of Madame’s beautiful gloves, relishing the thought of having something so very beautiful to call her own.

Before Francoise knows what is happening, she is thrown into jail, accused of stealing the gloves and sentenced to death by hanging. Everyone in Quebec in the time period knows that the only way for a woman awaiting death to avoid the noose is if she marries the hangman and he makes himself responsible for her. Due to an untimely death, there is no hangman, so she lives day after day in her cell, waiting for a man to be appointed the position. Then she gets an idea. The man next to her will be released from jail when his sentence has been served….What if she could convince him to become the hangman and marry her? And so she tells him her sad story…. Can she convince this man to volunteer for the worst job of all, being responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people who have sometimes only stolen food for starving families? Will he marry her?

This novel does a beautiful job of showing the harshness of Quebec in 18th-century Canada, where people left France to find a New World, and only found disease, poverty, and tyrannical laws. If you enjoy historical fiction that shows the injustice of the times, like Kathleen Kent’s The Heretic’s Daughter, you will want to add The Hangman in the Mirror, by Kate Cayley, to your to-read list.