Monday, August 10, 2020

SERIES REVIEW - Charles Dickens & Superintendent Sam Jones


This blog post is for reviews for the first six books in the Charles Dickens & Superintendent Sam Jones series by J.C. Briggs, published by Sapere Books.
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   294
Date of Publication:   December 27, 2018
My Rating:   4 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

An intriguing detective series featuring Charles Dickens! Perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes, Victorian crime mysteries, A Christmas Carol and David Copperfield…

A brutal murder in Victorian London forces a famous writer to solve the mystery…

London, 1849

Charles Dickens has set up Urania Cottage as a sanctuary for fallen women.

But he is shocked when the matron’s assistant – Patience Brooke – is found hanging outside the property, covered in blood.

Desperate to protect the reputation of the Home and to stop a scandal from spreading, Dickens takes the investigation into his own hands.

With the help of his good friend, Superintendent Sam Jones of Bow Street, and a description of the suspect as ‘a man with a crooked face’, Dickens's search takes him deep into the filthy slums of Victorian London.

Can Dickens save his reputation? Will he find out the secrets of Patience Brooke’s troubled past?

Or will the killer strike again …?

The Murder of Patience Brooke is the first urban mystery in J. C. Briggs' literary historical series, the Charles Dickens investigations, a traditional British detective series set in Victorian London.



MY THOUGHTS:

Charles Dickens is a very busy man. He is a famous writer, husband and father. Yet, his activities extend themselves when he becomes an amateur detective. Charles has recently established a sanctuary for women under difficult circumstances. He is saddened and shocked when the matron's assistant, Patience Brooke, is found murdered, and it was a brutal murder. Charles doesn't want gossip, fear and scandal to adversely affect the sanctuary, so he takes matters in his own hands in order to try and discover who killed Patience. 

Charles is aided by his very good friend Superintendent Sam Jones. The pair dig deep and end up in the bowels of Victorian London. (Not a time period or location I would have wanted to experience myself.) Why does his investigation lead Charles there? What about the fact that he has an image to uphold, never mind the fact that he just soon might have to be worried about his own safety?

The Murder of Patience Brooke is the exciting first book in a new series by J.C. Briggs. The story and setting are very much like the Sherlock Holmes books of old, and even Agatha Christie's novels. Growing up these were exactly the types of books I loved to read, so grabbing a hold of this series was a true delight. At the same time, bits and pieces of the novels of Charles Dickens are quoted. I loved the way this was done, not only in this book, but in all six books in the series I have had the pleasure of reading. 

Many thanks to Sapere Books and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

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Title:  Death at Hungerford Stairs
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   288
Date of Publication:   December 27, 2018
My Rating:   4 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

Charles Dickens has turned detective in this thrilling series! Perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes, Victorian crime mysteries, A Christmas Carol and David Copperfield

Boys are going missing from London’s slums…

London, 1849

When a boy is found drowned in the River Thames at Hungerford Stairs, novelist Charles Dickens and Superintendent Jones of Bow Street are mystified to discover that the child is not the missing youngster for whom they have been searching.

As Dickens and Jones delve deeper into London’s poverty-stricken backstreets, they stumble across two more bodies.

A serial killer is on the loose. And Charles is terrified that someone close to him may be one of the victims.

With a strange image of a mask sketched next to the corpses, could the murderer be leaving a trail for the detectives to follow…?

Or will the Death at Hungerford Stairs remain unsolved…?


MY THOUGHTS:

It didn't take long for famous writer Charles Dickens to become an excellent detection. Mostly accompanied by Superintendent Sam Jones, Charles finds himself in the position to solve crimes, and they are usually murders. In this case, sadly the body of a boy is found drowned in a river. Charles barely has a chance to investigate things when even more young boys are killed. His search for the killer leads him to the darkness of Victorian London. Even when writing this book I have images of a foggy Victorian London from movies I had seen as a child.

Needless to say, this was a difficult story. Actually, any story - real or fictional - about the deaths of children are always tragic. This story focused on Charles innate talents when it came to getting to the bottom of things in order to find the elusive killer in this second book in the series. Whether it was due to a past nearly as dark as some of the boys in this story, even snippets from his own writing, and his role as a family man, Charles is more than equipped to work along with Superintendent Sam Jones to solve the case at hand. 

Now having read the first two books in this well-written series, I just had to take a few days and read the rest.

Many thanks to Sapere Books and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

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Title:  Murder by Ghostlight
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   277
Date of Publication:   January 24, 2019
My Rating:   4 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

Join Charles Dickens on another crime-solving adventure! Perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes, Victorian crime mysteries, A Christmas Carol and David Copperfield…
Dickens has gone from private investigator to prime suspect…
London, 1850.


Charles Dickens is in Manchester, performing at the Queen’s Theatre with his acting group.

But his career on the stage is cut short when a man is shot dead – on set.
With Dickens himself caught with the gun in his hands, he is immediately arrested.

Along with the help of his good friend Superintendent Sam Jones, Dickens must do all he can to find the real killer, before he is locked up for a crime he didn’t commit.

Can Dickens convince the authorities of his innocence? Will he unmask the true assassin?

Or will there be another Murder by Ghostlight…?

Murder By Ghostlight
is the third urban mystery in J. C. Briggs’ literary historical series, the Charles Dickens investigations, a traditional British detective series set in Victorian London.


Charles Dickens is on the set where he is performing in a play. When a fellow actor is found murdered, Charles is arrested for the crime. The night's performance went off without a hitch and the cast met at a Tavern afterwards. After that, for some reason, Charles headed back to the theater. This is when Charles found the man's dead body lying on the stage. Startled by a sudden noise, Charles grabbed the pistol that was lying next to the man and fired off a warning shot. This led to his subsequent arrest.

Of course Charles is innocent. However, will he be able to convince the authorities of this? What of superintendent Sam Jones, his friend and also the policeman Charles has worked with previously to solve other murders?

As always, the author delivers an excellent story in this series. We continually get to know Charles, his writing, his family and his take when it comes to solving crimes. The fact that he is the principal suspect makes this book even more enjoyable. This quick read was packed with great suspense, interesting and compelling characters and a surprising conclusion.

Many thanks to Sapere Books and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

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Title:   The Quickening and the Dead
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   310
Date of Publication:   April 11, 2019
My Rating:   5 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

Charles Dickens and Superintendent Jones are fighting crime once again! Perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes, Victorian crime mysteries, A Christmas Carol and David Copperfield…

Three girls, three deaths — but what connects them…?

London, 1850


Lavinia Gray vanishes on the eve of her wedding and is found drowned.

Evie Finch dies of septicaemia in a filthy lodging house.

Annie Deverall, a fifteen-year-old milliner’s apprentice is on remand in Newgate, accused of murdering the Doctor Lancelot Plume.

Three young girls' lives have been ruined, but could they be connected somehow?

Charles Dickens
visits Annie and is immediately convinced of her innocence. He enlists the help of Superintendent Sam Jones to find the real murderer before Annie goes to trial.

How are the three girls linked to Plume? And if Annie didn’t kill him, who did?

What Charles Dickens uncovers will shock him to his very core…

The Quickening and the Dead is the fourth urban mystery in J. C. Briggs’ literary historical series, the Charles Dickens investigations, a traditional British detective series set in Victorian London.


Charles Dickens finds more crimes to solve. This time it is three women who have been murdered and yet another woman has been accused of murder. Charles has always championed the cause of those less advantaged. When it comes to these women, Charles, along with Superintendent Sam Jones work hard to set matters right. 

As this is the fourth book in the series, I have gotten to know a lot about Charles Dickens. In this book the deeper part of London life in the mid 1850s helps reader to learn more about the man himself, especially when it came to certain facts about his childhood.  I cannot help but feel like I am reminiscing while reading these books. There is a vibe, the vibe that I never lost after seeing the movie The Christmas Carol when I was a child. There was a certain atmosphere in that move that left an impression on me. While there are times we think of imagining ourselves in the past, London at that time definitely does not appeal to me.

As this book delves into that time period, it becomes easy to imagine Charles growing up, even though among difficult circumstances.  As Charles and Sam work hard to tie the murders together, having come to know the man through the pages of this series thus far, it is easy to see why he was so talented. 

I am sort of a stickler for reading books in order whenever possible. I think they way these books are written, especially as we get to see Charles's home life with his wife and children, they would better read in order.

Many thanks to Sapere Books and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


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DESCRIPTION:

TitleAt Midnight in Venice
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:  Kindle 
No. of Pages:   375
Date of Publication:   August 23, 2019
My Rating:   4 Stars

It’s a tricky case for Charles Dickens and Superintendent Jones! Perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes, Victorian crime mysteries, A Christmas Carol and David Copperfield…

Two cities, two skeletons, linked by a mysterious vision…

London, 1850

An Italian music master and an English governess disappear from the house of Sir Neptune Fane, a prominent Member of Parliament.

A female skeleton is found in a disused water tank behind a house which has been empty for five years.

Her neck had been broken and found with a jewelled chain around it.

Charles Dickens is reminded of his time in Venice a few years earlier, when he thought he saw a monk with his hands on a girl’s neck, the glimpse of jewels in fleeting torchlight, a cry of fear.

And later he read that a girl was found drowned at the spot where he had his vision.

Are the two corpses connected? And what is the link to Sir Neptune Fane?

Charles Dickens and Superintendent Sam Jones must find the link between the backstreets of London and the mysterious canals of Venice…

At Midnight In Venice is the fifth urban mystery in J. C. Briggs’ literary historical series, the Charles Dickens investigations, a traditional British detective series set in Victorian London.


MY THOUGHTS:

Charles Dickens has another crime on his hands. This time the murder brings memories of a murder in Venice years ago. Are they connected? Charles and Superintendent Sam Jones work hard to find the link. Two cities are featured in this book, not just London, but Venice as well.

Just as I have thoroughly enjoyed all the previous novels in this series, this book proves to be just as enjoyable. Sadly, the murder at hand is not the only one the pair work hard to solve. Proof of other young women's bodies have been found, and a pattern soon becomes clear. 

These stories are not easy reads. At that time in history, especially where crime was rampant, there was poverty, lack of good sanitation and other things that I could not imagine experiencing. As murder is always the crux of these stories, that level of darkness only increases. I think the draw to these stories is Dickens himself, but also the talent that J. C. Briggs lays on the table.

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Title
The Redemption Murders
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   348
Date of Publication:   June 8, 2020
My Rating:   4 Stars

DESCRIPTION: 

A new murder case has fallen in the laps of Charles Dickens and Superintendent Jones! Perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes, Victorian crime mysteries, A Christmas Carol and David Copperfield…

The sea gave up its dead, and each one was judged according to his deeds.…

London, 1851

The Thames River Police are called to The Redemption, a ship docked at London’s Blackwall Reach.

Louis Valentine, the ship’s captain, has been stabbed to death.

With no murder weapon on site, and no signs of a robbery, the only clue is a copy of Charles Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop.

The book is not inscribed to Valentine but to someone called Kit.

When Charles Dickens realises his good friend Kit Penney is now a murder suspect, he is determined to clear his name.

But Kit has gone missing.

With the help of Superintendent Sam Jones, Dickens starts to investigate the troubled last journey of The Redemption.

It seems there was more than one suspicious death on board. But were they murders? And did the same person attack Captain Valentine?

Dickens and Jones begin a desperate search for Kit – and for the key to the dark secrets bound up in The Redemption…

The Redemption Murders is the sixth urban mystery in J. C. Briggs’ literary historical series, the Charles Dickens investigations, a traditional British detective series set in Victorian London.

MY THOUGHTS:

Charles Dickens and Superintendent Sam Jones are at it again. Yet another murder and the pair are now on the case on a ship called The Redemption. The ship's captain has been murdered, but evidence and clues are sparse. Something odd, however, is the fact that one of Dickens' novels was found near the body. 

Charles becomes quite concerned when his friend Kit appears to be tied to the murder. Is he guilty of the stabbing? Charles certainly cannot believe that he is, and Charles will do anything to clear his friend's name. Per usual for the Charles and Sam, during the course of their investigation, more than one murder takes place, thus time becomes a factor. As always, there is a bevy of suspects as Charles and Sam try to stay one step ahead of the killer. 

I love this series! I can imagine a cold winter weekend and gobbling them up all over again. J. C. Briggs is a fabulous writer and I love how she brought Victorian London to live through the pages of this remarkable series. I am truly hoping that this series will continue.

Many thanks to Sapere Books and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jean taught English and Drama in various schools, from Hong Kong to Lancashire.  She enjoyed writing plays, especially spoof murder mysteries: A is for Arsenic, B is for Bludgeon, C is for Cyanide were all set in ridiculously clich├ęd country houses, featuring sinister butlers and half-mad aristocrats poisoning or bashing their way to inheritances. A Lesson in Murder saw the slaughter of half a staff room by a lunatic former pupil bent on revenge naturally, that went down very well with the pupils. The highest point of her career as a playwright came with a performance of a reduced Hamlet in the presence of The Queen not an ideal choice, she thought afterwards almost the entire court of Denmark slaughtered.


5 comments:

  1. This looks like an excellent series if all 4 and 5 stars

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  2. This is the first I am hearing of this series. It sounds exciting.

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  3. This sounds like a great series! I love that it centers around a character named Charles Dickens :) Great reviews and so glad you enjoyed them.

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