Monday, October 4, 2010

A Pinchbeck Bride by Stephen Anable

Mark Winslow is a history buff, so when he is asked to serve on the board of trustees for Mingo House, he agrees.  Mingo House is a time capsule of sorts that preserves the Victorian era. The last heir of the Mingo family donated the house and all of its contents to become a museum.  Mark is assigned a young docent, Genevieve Courso, to orient him to the house and its treasures.

Mark likes the off-beat Genevieve and agrees to meet her at Mingo house before a trustees meeting.  He discovers the corpse of Genevieve, dressed in Victorian finery and placed on display in the home's dining room.  In death, Genevieve becomes a media sensation known as "the Victorian girl."

Mark finds himself investigating Genevieve's life in an attempt to solve her murder.  Was it another of the trustees, an unusual group?  Was it a spurned lover, or the father of the child the coroner discoversshe was carrying?  More murders occur, and the need to find the killer becomes more pressing.

This is a very enjoyable mystery.  Lovers of Boston and of history will enjoy this book; however, homophobes should be aware that the narrator and several other primary characters are gay.

Scene Stealer by Elise Warner

Miss Augusta Weidenmaier is a retired school teacher who, because of a chance encounter on a subway train, finds herself embroiled in finding a kidnapped child.  Her sleuthing leads her to become involved in acting and enlivens her rather predictable life.

At first, Miss Weidenmaier drove me insane.  She attributes many of her skills as a sleuth, such as the power of observation or the ability to tell when someone is lying, to her years as an elementary teacher.  My initial response was, "When did she retire, in the 1800s?"  However, as the novel progressed, she grew on me.  She is the heroine of a cozy mystery in the mold of Miss Marple and other distinguished older ladies.  She has more gumption than one would expect, and she becomes rather endearing by the end of the book.

The theater in New York City plays an important role in this mystery, so those who love either the profession or the place would enjoy this read.