Review by Riley.
About The Curious Affair of the Witch of Wayside Cross
The paranormal answer to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Jesperson and Lane are turning the Victorian era upside down in this bewitching series from John W. Campbell Award winner Lisa Tuttle.
“Witch!” cries the young man after stumbling unexpectedly into the London address of the consulting-detective partnership of Mr. Jasper Jesperson and Miss Lane. He makes the startling accusation while pointing toward Miss Lane . . . then he drops dead. Thus begins the strangest case yet to land—quite literally—on the doorstep of Jesperson and Lane.
According to the coroner, Charles Manning died of a heart attack—despite being in perfect health. Could he have been struck down by a witch’s spell? The late Mr. Manning’s address book leads Jesperson and Lane to the shrieking pits of Aylmerton, an ancient archaeological site reputed to be haunted by a vengeful ghost. There they sift through the local characters, each more suspicious than the last: Manning’s associate, Felix Ott, an English folklore enthusiast; Reverend Ringer, a fierce opponent of superstition; and the Bulstrode sisters, a trio of beauties with a reputation for witchcraft.
But when an innocent child goes missing, suddenly Jesperson and Lane aren’t merely trying to solve one murder—they’re racing to prevent another.
Review of The Curious Affair of the Witch of Wayside Cross
Let’s check out this title.
“The Curious Affair…” Well, if you haven’t figured out that this is a mystery, you probably aren’t a mystery fan. Most of this book is about Miss Lane and Mister Jesperson solving the mystery of what caused the death of a man that arrived on their doorstep with the word ‘witch’ on his breath. It is an interesting, complex mystery with all sorts of clues and misclues. But with no hint of the ‘paranormal’ that the book blurb hints at.
“…Witch of Wayside Cross”. That is the part that is meant to entice you and it is exactly why I decided to read it. Don’t let it fool you though. This book is pure mystery. Witches and witchcraft are incidental to the story. The setting is Victorian, so the accusation of witchcraft is something to be taken with a large grain of salt.
Di Lane, the first person narrator of the story, is a strong, independent, woman. She is highly opinionated, which can offend people. But she also is prudent enough to hang back when she feels her partner Jasper Jesperson, a man, will have better luck without her.
Jasper Jesperson tends to make plans and explain himself later. As his partner, Lane must be quite frustrated. As a reader, I know I was.
What I’ve just told you about these main characters is about all I know about them. I did not feel like I got to know these characters well. Even, Lane, the narrator is still a mystery to me. I certainly don’t get a feel for the relationship between Jesperson and Lane, which appears to be strickly business with very little hint of friendship. The other characters in the book are depicted in much more detail, as they are all suspects, and are better known by the end of the book.
Since I did not engage with the protagonists, I was not not emotionally involved in this story at all. And I was only slightly curious to know how it ended. I know there are readers that prefer just the fictitious facts, but I am not one of them.
There was a sub-plot that was kind of fun. It was a mystery also, but had a hint of magic. It seemed totally incongruous with the rest of the story, but was the best reason to read this book.
Through Netgalley, the publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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