I like historical mysteries so I took a chance on this one and got even more excited when it looked like it would be about the Victorian battles of science and religion. Being a biologist, I was very pleased to see names like Wallace, Darwin and Lydell being batted around. However, I'm beginning to think that having praise on book covers is a bad idea. It sets up unrealistic expectations. 'Sparkling characters', uh where?
This was much slower and flat than I would have liked. The main investigators are Professor Hatton, a specialist in the fledgling science of autopsy and forensics, his French assistant, Roumande, Inspector Adams and an aristocrat, Ben Broderig. Lady Blessingham, a pro-evolution force, has been murdered and letters sent to her from Borneo by Broderig. He wants them back because of their personal nature. During all of this there is a subplot of murdered young girls being ignored by police but not by Hatton's crew.
We also get to see into the heads of a duke, who is very anti-evolution, his butler, Ashby and a seamstress/whore who is trying to get a revolution ala the French going while blackmailing everyone else. In some respects we need to see these different povs but the end result is we never get to know anyone in any detail so yeah, no sparkling for me.
As for the purloined letters, we get to see them in detail, almost too much detail. They really drag down the entire middle of the book. However we do get to see radical evolutionary thought from Broderig, Wallace and others that the church would condemn and Broderig does things there that he wouldn't want his social circles to know. However, is this enough to kill for? Lady B is only the first. Many others with connections to her also die.
Even with the draggy middle, it wasn't bad but right about mid-way, Adams starts doing things that make little sense and the ending isn't very satisfying on many levels. It's not a terrible book but it wasn't that great either. There seemed to be too many threads and not enough done with a few of them.
Black Butler #2 by Yana Toboso
It opens with just a day in Sebastian's life. With the staff that Phantomhive employs, Ciel needs a devil to fix all their mistakes. This filler chapter was just darn cute. The rest of the volume has Ciel and Sebastian working for the queen trying to discover and stop Jack the Ripper. Assisting them are his aunt, Madam Red, and Lau, manager of a Hong Kong trading company. There is a lot of accurate detail about Jack mixed in with the fantasy of the manga. And of course there is fan service with Ciel dressed as a girl to catch Jack's eye. It was a very enjoyable volume. Sebastian is quite delightful.
Interior Desecrations: Horrible Homes from the Horrible 70's by James Lileks
This is just so much fun. Lileks is a comedic writer (check out his websites) and this is a look at design pamphlets and actual homes of the 1970's. I was a kid then and I remember some of this stuff. It's a great romp through the absolute hideousness of the fashions from then. We were finally able to really get lots of color in paints and wallpapers and by god, we were going to use them. Even without Lileks write up this is just hysterical to look at. Some of his commentary had me red faced and gasping with laughter. These humor books are always a tad too expensive but what the heck. I can always pull it off the shelf for a reread when I'm feeling blue.