3 out of 5 stars
I would like to thank Kensington Books for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.
Well, what can I say, it was a historical novel set in the Regency era, it was a sort of cosy crime mixed into historical crime and… as those are my three favourite things to look for in fiction, how could I not have enjoyed ‘Murder on Black Swan Lane’?
Add that it is the first in a very promising new series ‘A Wrexford & Sloane Mystery’ and all in all I was a totally satisfied reader. Yes some may expect me to have graded it higher if I liked it so much, but let’s just say I am pacing myself and hoping the books in the series just get better and better so my score can rise, rather than fall – as it has done with recent series I read.
I feel the other reason I didn’t score it higher is I couldn’t quite decide what genre I would describe it as… Regency era adventure? Historic Crime? Cosy crime? It was all three in places – and very good at all of them – but I just need to find one that suits my personal categorisation of works best. Not a fault with ‘Murder on Black Swan Lane’ or the author. Simply down to me and which of these genres attracted me the most. Yeah, no, that doesn’t make sense to you does it? But it’s how I feel, and my blog so my right to confuse you. 😉
Let’s get into reviewing the book properly. The characters were well written and there was proof that research of the Regency era had been undertaken to bring the work to life. I will state here that I am a HUGE fan of Marion Chesney’s Regency novels (not just the romance ones) and so will admit her vivid descriptions of that time period do colour my imagination and will mean I compare other works to hers…So ‘Murder on Black Swan Lane’ was good… but just not as descriptive for my liking. But I am picky and we all know it.
I enjoyed the changing between characters so we got the story from both sides – both the male and female protagonists. It was clear and very easy to discern who was telling the story at the time, unlike other books that attempt this style of narration. And I thoroughly enjoyed that it wasn’t a romance hidden in a cosy historical crime! Yes there was attraction and even I was wondering where it was leading… but the story stuck to the crime and solving them and all in all satisfied me more than any marriage and HEA ever could.
Though I am sure the possibility may end up being there later in the series… not that I would mind that either. 😉
The characters were all well-defined and easy to tell apart – something not all authors can pull off when there are multiple people at play. And there was just the right amount of red herrings and padding out of the storyline to keep me interested and not be distracted by feeling the tale was going off tangent.
Yes I eventually guessed the whodunit before they did… but it took me a while longer than normal and I do love an author who can make me keep guessing rather than spoon feeding me the answer right off and think they are being tricky in hiding it. Not with ‘Murder on Black Swan Lane’! No, it was the perfect balance of crime, adventure, historical padding, friendships and red herrings. A very enjoyable story.
Would I recommend this book to others?
Yes I would, but again I would be confused who to suggest it to. As in, those who enjoy Regency Era tales may like it… but as so many Regency books are all about the romance, maybe they wouldn’t? Would cosy crime lovers enjoy it? I mean, I love a good cosy crime, but most cosy crimes need to be set in modern times to be classified as such.
Then there is the whole Historical Crime lovers… they might not feel there was enough history involved to truly make it meet their criteria. It’s all so confusing.
So I will just say – I am a lover of all three genres and I enjoyed this book so I would recommend it and hope for the best! 😉
Would I buy this book for myself?
Yes I would. I am already looking forward to any new books in the series and will be following Ms Penrose on Amazon just to ensure I know when they come out. ‘Murder on Black Swan Lane’ is definitely a cosy, historical, Regency crime book for me, and so will any further novels in the ‘A Wrexford & Sloane Mystery’ series!
In summary: a very enjoyable crime fiction book and the start to a very promising new series!