Friday, August 29, 2014

Stolen Remains by Christine Trent

Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Historical Novel Review
Read: May 15, 2014

After establishing her reputation as one of London's most highly regarded undertakers, Violet Harper decided to take her practice to the wilds of the American West. But when her mother falls ill, Violet and her husband Samuel are summoned back to England, where her skills are as sought-after as ever. She's honored to undertake the funeral of Anthony Fairmont, the Viscount Raybourn, a close friend of Queen Victoria's who died in suspicious circumstances--but it's difficult to perform her services when his body disappears. . . As the viscount's undertaker, all eyes are on Violet as the Fairmonts and Scotland Yard begin the search for his earthly remains. Forced to exhume her latent talents as a sleuth to preserve her good name, Violet's own investigation takes her from servants' quarters, to the halls of Windsor Castle, to the tombs of ancient Egypt--and the Fairmont family's secrets quickly begin to unravel like a mummy's wrappings. But the closer Violet gets to the truth, the closer she gets becoming the next missing body... Wrought with both heartfelt bravery and breathtaking suspense, Stolen Remains is a captivating tale of death and deception set against the indelible backdrop of Victorian London.

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Christine Trent's Stolen Remains, the sequel to Lady of Ashes, left me in mind of A Royal Likeness and that isn't a good thing. Unlike most of Trent's readers, I found her first sequel lacked the appeal of its predecessor and here again, I feel the story failed to replicate the magic of the original publication.

Lady of Ashes struck me for a couple of reasons, the first among them being the detailed insight the story gave to the undertaker's profession. Unfortunately this element all but disappears in Stolen Remains. Have no fear, Violet is still practicing, but I was very disappointed at Trent's decision to downplay the details of her craft in favor of the mystery at hand.

On that note, I also failed to see the entertainment value in Trent's whodunit. Call me crazy, but the whole thing seemed way too coincidental. Violet just happens to be in London, just happens to have her supplies, Queen Victoria just happens to renew their far-fetched association... Give me a break. 

Already frustrated with the direction and tone of the piece, Trent's self-promotional nod to her earlier novels annoyed me even further. The Laurent Doll Shop isn't essential to this series and the fact that scenes continue to take place here comes off as both amateurish and awkward.

There is a lot of buzz regarding the impending publication of A Virtuous Death and The Mourning Bells, but can't say I'm among those dying to get my hands on either tome.

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“Yes. It has come to our attention that Anthony Fairmont, the Viscount Raybourn, has just died. Perhaps a suicide, but quite possibly murdered, at his townhome in Mayfair."
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Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

Love the honest review. I've been curious about this series and I may still read Lady of Ashes. It's always a bummer when sequels don't live up to their predecessors.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Holly!