Thursday, August 8, 2013

Book Review: Winter At Death's Hotel

Winter at Death's HotelAuthor: Kenneth Cameron
Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

New York, January 1896. Arthur Conan Doyle, the renowned creator of Sherlock Holmes, arrives at the Britannic Hotel with his wife, Louisa, ready to begin his first American tour. While he prepares his lectures, Louisa becomes mesmerized by this brash, vibrant, dangerous city, especially when a woman's brutally butchered corpse is found in a Bowery alley and Louisa is convinced from the artist's sketch in the paper that she'd seen the victim at the hotel. Arthur is patronizingly skeptical about her womanly 'fantasies' but when she sprains her ankle and is forced to remain at the hotel while Arthur goes on tour, Louisa cannot resist pursuing her intuitions. And when more bodies start appearing, she's convinced that she holds the key to the killings. With the help of the hotel's hard-bitten detective and an ambitious female news reporter, Louisa starts to piece together a story of madness, murder and depravity - a story that leads inexorably back to the hotel itself, the strange story of its unique construction and a madman who is watching her every move.

Most certainly, if you were English and of a certain sort, you stayed at the New Britannic when you were in New York. Of a ceratin sort: not new money, not great peerages, not political power; rather, achievement and reserve and even fame – but of course, not notoriety.

Louisa Doyle woke before six. She didn’t kwno that it was before six; she knew only that she felt wonderful, that she was happy and safe and loved, and she was in New York and her husband was beside her in a marvelous bed. She put a hand out to feel the mound of him under the bedcovers; she moved a foot to feel his hairy leg; like a guarantee, a surety of marriage. Of protection.

“Your Shelock Holmes would talk about him.”

This is not normally a book that I would find myself picking up to read. Every so often I do find myself longing for a good mystery/thriller that is a little darker, but not as often as I pick up light, fluffy books to read. I found it interesting that this was a male author writing from a female’s point of view, but I will get to that down below. This story focuses around the character of Louisa, Arthur Conan Doyle’s wife. If you are unaware of who Arthur Conan Doyle is, he is the man that wrote the Sherlock Holmes series. They are visiting New York for a book tour of his. At this time in New York there have been a series of Jack the Ripper murders, and Louisa gets wrapped up in the mystery herself. She recognizes the body of one of the victims, and decides to become part of the hunt!

At first I was sure that I was not going to like Cameron writing from a woman’s perspective. And though it did take me a few pages, I did enjoy his/her voice and I thought he did an excellent job by the time I was finished. I thought he may try to make her seem overly dramatic and dependent, but surprisingly he did not. I loved her personality and her the fact that her curiosity often gets the best of her. I think a lot of my enjoyment of this novel came from Cameron’s writing style. It was so fluid and beautiful that even if this book had been six hundred pages, I wouldn’t have cared or complained and I probably wouldn’t have even realized it.

I am not sure if this was a realistic portrayal of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Louisa, but I would sure like to know if they were. I am not that familiar with either of these characters, only with the Sherlock Holmes series and books. The setting was portrayed just as beautifully as Louisa was, and I enjoyed seeing New York from Louisa’s point of view. The mystery and the suspense of all the murders just added to the writing and the love I had for the way the entire book was written and paced!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Sourcebooks Landmark in exchange for my honest review***

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