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  • Writer's pictureSusan Rowland, Author

Best Reads of 2023!

When Covid came for Christmas 2022, there is no better comfort and joy than Georgette Heyer’s Regency Romances.

The Talisman Ring kept me going when confined to bed because of the humor that never dates. With two love stories, a murder mystery and a treasure hunt, the reader has as much fun as the characters. Even the villain twirls his moustache charmingly. Ingenue and romantic novel reader Eustacie is determined to find a suitor to ride ventre a terre to her deathbed and so runs away from staid Sir Tristram. Eustacie encounters a smuggler who is heir to the talisman ring and wrongfully accused of murder. Fortunately, the adventurous pair are sheltered by redoubtable Sarah Thane who fully sympathizes with Eustacie’s plans to die for love.

Dandy Gilver and the Reek of Red Herrings by Catriona McPherson

Seeking engaging sleuths whose dogged determination never fails and whose brilliance does not make me stupid, I adore McPherson’s Dandy Gilver. Wife to a Scottish gentry farmer between World War I and II, Dandy escapes domesticity to investigate (with often unintentional humor) the odd and the terrible in close knit communities. Like all the best detectives she resists dissecting the love in her life – especially for sidekick, Alec. Find Dandy in a department store, a convent, among circus folk or a pre-Christian festival, or here in the fishing village where the ships, sailors and womenfolk migrate with the herring.

Unfortunately, what turns up in barrels is more than the corpses of fish. It takes guts for a gently bred lady to pursue murder through families and onto the high seas.

Dark Fire by C. J. Sansom

Some books are time travel capsules. Dark Fire I chose to re-read at a stressful time because like all of Sansom’s Tudor mysteries, it sides with the bullied, the vulnerable and the honorable in a culture of greed, religious obsession and cruel power. Lawyer Matthew Shardlake is despised everywhere as a hunchback except when the powerful need a shrewd investigator they can trust. Once a religious enforcer for Thomas Cromwell, Shardlake is now horrified by how greed has consumed genuine faith. However omnipotent Cromwell’s star is falling. Only if Matthew can get him the alchemical secret of dark fire – a weapon of mass destruction used by the Byzantine Greeks, might Cromwell be saved. And if Cromwell falls, he might take Shardlake with him.

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