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About A Hanging at Lotus Hall by Corrina Lawson

Family secrets are the most dangerous…

All is not well at Lotus Hall, the home of the Dukes of Bennington, powerful mages who sit at the highest levels of power in the British Empire.

Consulting detective Gregor Sherringford, youngest brother of the current duke, is summoned home by his mother, the Dowager Duchess, after the mysterious arrival of a family member long presumed dead.

Joan Krieger, Gregor’s investigative partner and lover. accompanies him. In her experience, families bring nothing but grief. Besides, she’s no proper match for Gregor, with her reputation as a “fallen” woman, and being from a Jewish merchant family.

Her fears are realized after their arrival at Lotus Hall. The duke is distant, Gregor’s mother is concealing a secret, Gregor’s other brother is hiding an affair, and the other guests, important members of the Metaphysical Society, warn Joan of dire consequences if she continues to use forbidden magic in her investigations.

When one of the signature Sherringford inventions is used to kill, uncovering the truth behind all the facades becomes imperative. For someone is hunting Sherringfords and unless they can all learn to trust each other, their family will be utterly destroyed.

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Review of A Hanging at Lotus Hall

From page one, heroine Joan Krieger is placed in a situation that will be challenging to navigate. Why? Because she is a woman that wields magic. Make that a Jewish woman that wields magic. Illegally, since only men are considered to be able to handle the power of magic. But Joan’s challenge came in the form of an offer to be the first to teach girls at a mage school. Does this mean that society is ready to accept female mages?

Add all this to the fact that Joan is both the magical apprentice and lover of Gregor Sherringford, the 3rd son of a duke, and you can see that Joan’s life is not uninteresting.

When Gregor’s mother asks him to return home and bring Joan with him, the game is afoot. While only an attempted murder has occurred at this time in the book, the trip home sets up the circumstances for the real murder. Suddenly Gregor is the detective, with Joan as his assistant and everyone, from Gregor’s brother Jared (the Duke) to his niece, Anne, is a suspect.

This country manor murder mystery is both classic and original. The setting, the Sherlockian elements (down to the name of Moriarity), the family dynamics – those are all time-honored ingredients of many very good mysteries. Add the mage factor, the changing mage society in England and the conflicts that go with that and you have a fresh twist on the English manor murder mystery.

Intertwined in the mystery is the ongoing story of Gregor and Joan. Their relationship is solid, but on a wood foundation sort of way, as opposed to bedrock. Gregor is extremely protective and uncommunicative. These are Joan’s pet peeves and her reason for holding back. This is a couple that will always be interesting, but I would really like to see their relationship mature to more of a partnership. Hoping that A Hanging at Lotus Hall is not the last book in the series, I will be patient!

Gregor and Joan are the main characters, but this book is full of fascinating supporting characters. Gregor’s mother Vai, the returned-from-the-dead Edward Dale, and older brothers Jared and Nick. Just to name a few. Pay attention to each and everyone for clues if you wish to solve the mystery.

I read book one in the Steampunk Detectives series, The Curse of the Brimstone Contract, in 2015. At that time, I was really getting into steampunk. So I ate it up. Similarly, I devoured A Hanging at Lotus Hall. This book is for anyone that enjoys a complex plot, great character, and mystery with twist.

Many thanks to the author who provided a copy of her book in exchange for my honest review.

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