With absurd hauteur / New tulips dab their shadows / In water-mutter. ~ Richard Kenney
In fin de siecle Paris, Marcel Després finds meaning in his unusually perfect memory. He becomes an act in a cabaret, displaying his strange skill for the elite who dare to carouse in Montmartre by night.
When his wife is found dead and he is arrested for the crime, he is unable to find a memory of having done so. He is brought to the Salpetriere Asylum where his doctor and an intrepid police detective begin to unravel what really happened that day.
The book is dense with colorful description and a twisting narrative. The story is reminiscent of The Prestige, with its stage effects and illusory truth. Its characters struggle with identity, and the gap between the self and how one is seen by others. I highly recommend for anyone who enjoys a dash of philosophy and psychology with their mysteries.
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Pegasus Books (March 7, 2017)
In 1912 London, the Victorian era is still alive and well despite the advances of the twentieth century. The Suffragette movement has reached a feverpitch. manufacturing jobs are still grueling and urban poverty is difficult to escape. In a time before film, the masses still attend vaudeville and circus shows for cheap thrills.
Female newspaper columnist Frankie George is assigned to interview Ebony Diamond, a trapeze artist. When Diamond disappears during her act, Frankie decides to follow the clues rather than turn in a puff piece. The underbelly of London becomes her office as she locks step with a curious detective.
The book takes a bit to get going. I was about 80 pages in before I really started to become invested in the story and where it was going. Readers who stick with it are rewarded with a fun mystery and strange characters.
Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: Pegasus Books (March 7, 2016)
Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.6 x 9.3 inches
Mosca Mye escapes the depressing world of her uncle and aunt’s farm with her pet goose Saracen after accidentally setting fire to the mill.
She finds a traveling partner in Eponymous Clent, a smooth-talking balladier. The two become embroiled in political intrigue as the kingdom is split into factions loyal to different royal siblings.
Hardinge sets a different tone from The Lie Tree (although something called an “honest plant” makes a cameo appearance). The world-building is superb, with patron saints of the mundane. With names like Mipsquall the Patron of High-Pitched Winds and Saint Whillmop of the Peaceful Dream, it’s hard not to chuckle at the creativity of it all. And it’s a great adventure.
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Amulet Paperbacks (March 14, 2017)
Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.4 x 8.2 inches