Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Fatal Waltz

I have never been a big reader of books in a series as an adult. Besides Elizabeth Jane Howard's Cazalet books (must reread those), Sandra Gulland's Josephine trilogy, and the Maisie Dobbs books which are a new find for me, the only other ones I can think of that I've read are Patricia Cornwell's books that I borrowed from my mother when I was home from college. I had heard so many good things around the blogs about Tasha Alexander's mystery series about Lady Emily Ashton , that when Harper Collins offered me a copy of Alexander's latest book, A Fatal Waltz I was excited to try it. I hoped it would be an interesting perspective that I could give, not having read the first two books in the series.

A Fatal Waltz begins in late 1891 England. Emily is at a country house party hosted by Lord Fortescue, a man with whom she is often at odds with. When Fortescue is found murdered, Emily's good friend is arrested for the crime. Emily knows her friend is innocent and is determined to find the truth in order to set her friend free. This takes her to Vienna where Emily finds herself in great danger. As all this goes on, Emily has the additional problem of the Countess Von Lange - an ex-lover of her fiance whom he is working with.

I found A Fatal Waltz to be an enjoyable and entertaining read. The cast of characters at the beginning of the book went a long way in increasing my understanding of who everyone was. I thought the novel stood solidly as a stand-alone read, but I was intrigued throughout about what was being referred to in the past and definitely plan to go back and read the first two installments in this series.

This is a fairly traditional mystery in the sense that it is quite plot driven but at the same time it is a romance. I enjoyed the settings, the English countryside, Emily's home in Berkeley Square (made me think of that miniseries), and Vienna in the winter. I didn't feel that this was really 'pure' historical fiction in the way that more character driven or historical-event driven books seem to be. Emily is quite a modern woman and the conversation often feels more modern, as do some of the situations.

I will certainly look out for more books in this series and as I said, plan to catch up on Emily's past exploits.

What series books do you enjoy?


Nan said...

I love a 'cast of characters' and also a map in books.

Some series books I love are:
Mrs Pollifax - Dorothy Gilman
Amelia Peabody - Elizabeth Peters
Rabbi Small - Harry Kemelman
Maisie Dobbs - Jacqueline Winspear
Mary Russell - Laurie R. King
Hamish Macbeth - M.C. Beaton
Asey Mayo - Phoebe Atwood Taylor
Nero Wolfe - Rex Stout

StuckInABook said...

I too very rarely read series of books now - I think it's the commitment I fear! There's so little time for reading that I can't dedicate that much to a series, but it wouldn't feel right if I only read some OF a series...

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a wonderful book and series. I am going to have to check it out. I read quite a few series, mostly mystery. Deborah Crombie and Joanna Dobson write two of my favorite series. The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde is great too.

Tara said...

Nan, thank you for the list! What a wonderful resource.

Simon, I can certainly see both points of view. It's hard to stop reading a series once you've started. You make an excellent point, though it can be nice to relax with characters one already knows.

Jennyellen, I think it will continue to be a great series. Thank you for the suggestions.

Carrie K said...

Oh, this is Tasha Alexander! I'll definitely have to pick it up.

I used to read series or all of an authors books when I first discovered them. I've become fickle in my old age.