Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

Cut to the Quick

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Cut to the Quick (1993) Kate Ross

CutToTheQuickI was out of sorts and couldn’t decide what I was in the mood to read when I realized THIS was what I wanted to read. Or rather re-read.

“I try to be interested in very nearly everything. I always think boredom is to some extent the fault of the bored.”

There is so much I adore about this book. Take Phillipa, an 11-year-old girl who is delighted to meet the dandy Julian Kestrel.

“If everyone who died with unpunished sins on his conscience came back as a ghost, the living would be crowded out of every home in England.”
“You’re cynical. I thought you would be. Can you sneer?”
“With terrifying effect.”
“Oh, do it, please! I want to see it!”
“I’m afraid you’re much too young to withstand it. I should be accused of stunting your growth— perhaps even sending you into a decline.”
“I wouldn’t go into a decline. I’m robust. My governess says so.

I love Julian Kestrel. He’s a mystery, and a man who makes himself out to be less than he truly is.

“I’m up every morning by six. I don’t suppose you’d get up at that hour if the house were on fire.”
Julian rallied. “I like that hour very well. I often stay up all night so as not to miss it.”

“I don’t wish to insult you, Kestrel, but I’m beginning to think you’d have made a very good lawyer.”
“I couldn’t have abided the wig. I never see a barrister tricked out for court without thinking he looks as if a wire-haired terrier had settled on his head.”

That wouldn’t actually have been a slam at lawyers. It was that one didn’t expect members of the ton to work.

So Julian Kestrel is a dandy–he is a part of society because he is witty and dresses well. But without those things society wouldn’t give him a second glance, and he knows it.

He’s also a kind man, although he wouldn’t admit it, because it would ruin the image he has worked so hard to create. Except that an act of kindness has him unexpectedly spending time with the Fontclairs, and a murder throws suspicion upon Julian and his manservant, Dipper (I also love Dipper).

But I also love the little glimpses into what life would have been like then.

Senderby was feeling miserably unequal to his task. He had never wanted to be constable of Alderton. He had yielded to the urging of his neighbours, who insisted he had more time for the job than most men in the parish. His shoemaking business was apt to be slow, except in the weeks just after the harvest, when people had money in their pockets. And he was tall and strapping— just the right build for a constable, everyone said. But what did he know about questioning servants and tracking murderers? Till now, he’d had nothing more alarming to deal with than rounding up vagrants for the house of correction, or breaking up fights between farm labourers who’d had a drop too many.

It’s a small wonder that justice was seen as something for the rich.

But really, I love everything about this story: the characters, the mystery, the setting, the dialog, absolutely everything.

“Being pretty is no great matter. Any young lady with bright eyes and passable teeth can claim that much. Better to be clever, quick, and intrepid— to charm with your mind and enchant with your wit— in short, to be the one radiant Circe in a season of dreary Helens.”

Rating: 10/10

Published by Felony & Mayhem Press

Categories: 10/10, British, Historical, Mystery

Tags: , ,

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