Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

The Deadly Hours

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Deadly Hours (2020) Susanna Kearsley, Anna Lee Huber, Christine Trent, C.S. Harris

The Deadly HoursTheses are four novellas, each connected by a cursed time piece.

“Weapon of Choice” by Susanna Kearsley
“In a Fevered Hour” by Anna Lee Huber
“A Pocketful of Death” by Christine Trent
“Siren’s Call” by C.S. Harris

“Weapon of Choice” by Susanna Kearsley
Set in Portofino, Italy in 1733

The anthology opens with Susanna Kearsley’s story with her characters Hugh and Mary, from her book A Desperate Fortune.

A storm and a purported curse forces their ship into port where they meet with a pirate and an assassin. The pirate has a gold watch, La Sirène, created from gold looted from the sacking of Cartagena, that is said (even by the pirate) to be cursed.

This was an interesting mystery (even if I saw the murder & mystery coming from a mile away) but I had some difficulty with the characters, since I had not read their book, an I felt like I was missing something at times.
Rating: 6.5/10

“In a Fevered Hour” by Anna Lee Huber
Set in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1831

This story features Lady Darby and her husband Sebastian Gage, soon after their wedding. Bonnie Brock Kincaid comes to Lady Darby asking for her help in finding a cursed watch he inherited. While visiting them he falls ill–possibly from the curse and possibly from an illness going around the city. Lady Darby calls Kincaid’s sister (whom she was instrumental in rescuing in an earlier book) to help care for him and she and Gage try to find the watch.

I enjoyed this story, because I like Lady Darby and Gage, and because Kincaid and his sister are interesting characters.

I also liked how the Typhus outbreak was worked into the story.
Rating: 7.5/10

“A Pocketful of Death” by Christine Trent
Set in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1870

I eventually realized I’d read the first book in this series.

And I didn’t like it.

I didn’t like this novella any more than I liked the the first book I read, and will not be seeking out any further books in her series.

Violet simply does not feel like a woman of her time. She insists upon using the front door despite being told not to (and the family continues to let her in), keeps coming back to the house for the flimsiest of reasons (and the family KEEPS letting her in).

She makes ridiculous statements and everyone just lets her, which I just don’t believe that would have happened at that time. IN short, I don’t like her, and I don’t believe her as a character of the 1870s.

Also, I thought the mystery was ridiculous and unbelievable.

In short, I found the whole thing aggravating and irritating, but I had to keep reading, since the events were tied to the next story.
Rating: 3.5/10

“Siren’s Call” by C.S. Harris
Set in Kent, England in 1944

The final story, however, was written by one of my favorite authors, and was a stand-alone novella, not tied to any existing series.

It’s WWII and Major Crosby has been killed. The two MI5 agents sent to the area to find a spy who has been sending encrypted messages to Germany are sure the murder is tied to the spy they are searching for, but they can’t make any sense of how or why.

Rachel moved back to the area to help care for her grandmother who is wheelchair bound after the explosion that killer her daughter–Rachel’s mother. Still mourning the death of her brother in the war, Rachel is somewhat at loose ends, and has been trying to convince the major to place his collection in storage.

This is not a cozy story. One of the MI5 agents, Jude, is forced to deal with the fact his partner is willing to use any means necessary in his attempts to find the spy–whether the person he wants the information from is likely guilty or not.

Both Rachel and Jude wonder precisely how they have arrived where they are.

How had it happened? she wondered, her throat closing painfully with grief and despair. How had a country as cultured, civilized, and prosaically sane as Germany allowed itself to fall under the spell of a fast-talking charlatan who seduced them with empty promises and twisted their fears and anger into a lethal hatred directed toward society’s most vulnerable members?

There is a darkness that exists within each of us, Mr. Lowe. All it takes is a seductive leader or the right circumstances to turn that darkness into evil.

Much of this story his extremely close to home right now.

But it was a good story, and I enjoyed it despite the dark parallels to current times.
Rating: 8.5/10

It was a very interesting idea, and for the most part I enjoyed seeing the way the stories wove bits and pieces into each other. I just wish the third story had been stronger, since it drug down the rest of the anthology.

Publisher : Poisoned Pen Press
Rating: 8/10


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