An effervescent Regency romantic mystery brings a decrepit estate to life.



A hunt for treasure—and treasures of the heart.

Peter Rathbone, the Duke of Compton, isn’t ever expecting visitors—his estate is so impoverished that he keeps a tennis racquet at the dinner table to fend off attacks from bats. Suddenly, however, he becomes the host to two parties: the Earl of Macklin, whom he hasn’t seen in six months, and a group of young women (plus chaperone, naturally) who went to school with his late sister, Delia. Led by Miss Ada Grandison, Sarah and Charlotte and Harriet are all eager to help the duke uncover a secret that Delia told Ada about just before her accidental death. Though the house is in disrepair, they all settle in, with chaperone Aunt Julia taking the opportunity to teach them how to run a household. Ada keeps looking for chances to be alone with the duke, to discuss Delia’s secret, and their private encounters spark a mutual interest. But Peter, for his part, won’t act on his feelings, having nothing to offer her, and Ada grows frustrated. After they all discover that Delia’s secret is a potential treasure trove hidden on the estate, the girls race to solve the puzzle Delia left behind and find the fortune. Peter’s not sure anything will come of it—but the chemistry between Ada and him continues, treasure or not. In the fourth volume of her The Way to a Lord’s Heart series (How To Cross a Marquess, 2019), Ashford continues her explorations of a world outside, but not apart from, London society. With a light mystery and evocative detail, she sketches a gentler side of Regency life, away from the haut ton. Although the budding romance between Ada and Peter is sweet and compelling, it’s the friendship between Ada and her three girlfriends that really sets the book apart. All of the dialogue, but especially theirs, is fast-paced and charming, adding a welcome richness to the story. The appearance of Lord Macklin might seem odd to readers who are new to the series, but the book can be read on its own, and fans of the series are sure to enjoy the latest entry.

An effervescent Regency romantic mystery brings a decrepit estate to life.

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6344-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.


Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

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The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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