Thursday, May 7, 2015

Book Review | Deception on Sable Hill

Deception on Sable Hill
Chicago World's Fair Mystery #2
Shelley Gray
Publisher:  Zondervan
Genre:  Mysteries, Christian Fiction, Historical
Released:  April 7th, 2015
{Goodreads}
It's mid-September of 1893 and Eloisa Carstairs is the reigning beauty of Gilded Age Chicago society. To outsiders she appears to have it all. But Eloisa is living with a dark secret. Several months ago, she endured a horrible assault at the hands of Douglass Sloane, heir to one of Chicago's wealthiest families. Fearing the loss of her reputation, Eloisa confided in only one friend. That is, until she meets Detective Sean Ryan at a high-society ball.

Sean is on the outskirts of the wealthy Chicago lifestyle. Born into a poor Irish family, becoming a policeman was his best opportunity to ensure his future security. Despite society's restrictions, he is enamored with Eloisa Carstairs. Sean seethes inside at what he knows happened to her, and he will do anything to keep her safe-even if he can never earn her affections.
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WARNING: Possible Spoilers

{The Basics}
First of all, this is the second book of the World's Fair mysteries.  You can find the review to the first here.  While I believe this novel could be read independent of the first, there are brief references to characters and events that happened previously that are worth knowing.  
With that said. . . Hey, look! Another mystery!! And boy, just as good as the last one.  I was kept on my toes most of the time.  "Deception" was the perfect word for this novel, as it was difficult to find the culprit.  I found myself thinking, "Oh, yeah.  It's gotta be that guy..."  Only to discover it was-- Wait.  I ain't givin' that kind of spoiler.  ;D
{Positives}
The characters respect their different classes, but when necessary choose to neglect them.  Rank, in all honesty, means nothing.  Just because a person grew up poor and was forced to work for a living, does not mean they are unequal to those born to wealth.  In all reality, it's usually those who find blessings and gratefulness in what they have (and even what they don't have) that have a better perspective on life and nobility of character.  Both Eloisa and Sean learn the stark differences in their lives, and strive to work past them, building a strong friendship.
Eloisa puts great effort into helping/caring for a shelter for women and children.  She gives clothing, toys, and books to the residents, ignoring the wary looks of the women, who feel at first that she's only helping to further her perfect reputation.  But she's determined to help with sincerity and gain trust.
Eloisa's friendship with her personal maid is very sweet.  She has a good confidant in Juliet.
{Negatives}
Society and classes play a huge part is this drama.  Your birth rank, whether low or high, is just that: a rank.  High society women mingled only with high society men, and the same with the working people, who were considered lowly--equal to peasants, which most are.  It is frowned upon for two people of different classes to mix.  But in the modern age of 1893, Eloisa believes change is coming.
Throughout the first half of this book, Eloisa seems to feel sorry for herself, and constantly relives the past.
Sean's sister Maeve is rather rude and blunt to Eloisa.
Eloisa's parents seem to care only for her beauty and reputation.  They wish her to marry well and wealthy.
{Spiritual Content}
Characters pray to God, go to church, etc. 

{Violence}
It's murder, y'all.  So, of course, there's a bit of violence. . . A criminal, dubbed the Society Slasher, is going around the city knifing women of importance, leaving them as frightened recluses, all too conscientious of their new scars and marred features.  It's believed the victims' chances of marrying well is ruined because of it.  They care far too much for appearances.  
Victims are slashed with a stiletto knife on the face and neck, leaving scars.  At least two women are killed.  

{Language, Alcohol & Drugs}
None that I recall. . . 

Brandy and such at extravagant parties.  I think one man becomes slightly inebriated. . .

{Love-y Content}
In the previous novel, Eloisa is raped.  She lives in constant fear and is haunted by dreams.  For fear of her reputation, she tells no one of what happened, with the exception of a select few.  Her parents are totally oblivious.

There is obvious attraction between Sean and Eloisa.  But because of their two very different lives, they strike up a cautious friendship at first, which only grows.  I loved seeing how their relationship changes.  They grow comfortable together and come to care deeply for each other.  

{Conclusion}
Another favorite!  I enjoy the historic setting, the parties, the era, the ballgowns--everything!  The plot held my attention and I was surprised at the outcome (although it doesn't seem to take much to surprise me).  Still, it was a great mystery and I cannot wait for the next!
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Recommended ages:  16+
My rating:


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1 comment:

Jameson C. Smith said...

Ooh, I should see if they have these at my library! I love a good historical mystery.