Monday, April 20, 2020

A Child Lost ~ Book Blog Tour Review & Giveaway!

A Henrietta and Inspector Howard Novel #5
by Michelle Cox

Genre:  Adult Fiction (18+)
Category:  Historical Mystery
Publisher:  She Writes Press
Release date:   April 28, 2020

Content RatingR: 
My book is rated R for 2 sex scenes that are somewhat explicit
but which are tastefully done. There is periodic swearing, but no violence.


A spiritualist, an insane asylum, a lost little girl . . .

When Clive, anxious to distract a depressed Henrietta, begs Sergeant Frank Davis for a case, he is assigned to investigating a seemingly boring affair: a spiritualist woman operating in an abandoned schoolhouse on the edge of town who is suspected of robbing people of their valuables. What begins as an open and shut case becomes more complicated, however, when Henrietta ― much to Clive’s dismay ― begins to believe the spiritualist's strange ramblings.

Meanwhile, Elsie begs Clive and Henrietta to help her and the object of her budding love, Gunther, locate the whereabouts of one Liesel Klinkhammer, the German  woman Gunther has traveled to America to find and the mother of the little girl, Anna, whom he has brought along with him. The search leads them to Dunning Asylum, where they discover some terrible truths about Liesel. When the child, Anna, is herself mistakenly admitted to the asylum after an epileptic fit, Clive and Henrietta return to Dunning to retrieve her. This time, however, Henrietta begins to suspect that something darker may be happening. When Clive doesn’t believe her, she decides to take matters into her own hands . . . with horrifying results.

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HALL WAYS REVIEW: I have had this series on my radar since January, when I met author Michelle Cox and heard her speak about her books at the Pulpwood Queen Girlfriend Weekend. (A Veil Removed, book four in this series, is one of the October, 2020 PQ Bonus Book Selections.) Once I wandered into the bookstore and saw those beautiful covers, I knew I had to have them. Sadly, as is the case for most books I buy for pure pleasure reading, they go on my TBR where they look gorgeous and call to me but get bumped for "have to read" books.  When I saw the 5th book was coming out, and iRead Book Tours had review opportunities, I knew it was time to get started.

So, despite owning the four prior books of the Henrietta and Inspector Howard Series, I began reading with book five, A Child Lost, and I have no regrets.  Though there are clearly loads of juicy back-story with these characters, I didn't feel left in the dark about anything. Instead, the author does a great job of dropping in short but informative sentences of explanation that help readers understand motivations and mindsets -- without spilling too much. These tidbits serve as reminders for readers who know the series and pique the interest of those who don't.   

There are several different plots progressing within the story, and they wonderfully weave themselves through and around each other. At times, the seemingly unrelated intersect, and at times those parallel threads split off in different directions. Rather than causing confusion, these threads entice the reader.  Additionally, having so many threads to the story allows the author to offer a wide range of curiosities for consideration -- including at least three iterations of angels for those who are paying attention. Through the variety of stories, readers get a taste of the paranormal, mystery, crimes old and new, and plenty of passion. 

In addition to the exceptionally well-edited text (and I read an ARC), what is also done exceptionally well is characterization. Cox uses specific words and phrases that help convey not only the attitudes of characters but their educational level as well. This is important in this book (and my guess, the full series) because there is a very clear division of class and people's roles within society. It is historical fiction, and it is 1930s Chicago, so this class delineation is sadly accurate.  

"He was learning that nothing about Henrietta's family was predictable -- except that they were unpredictable."

Honestly, here is a place that I think it would be helpful for a reader to have read the prior books; Henrietta and her sister weren't raised privileged; it seems they may have even lived in extreme poverty. Yet they certainly are exceedingly privileged in book five. That backstory must be a fascinating one, but knowing it also might make it a little easier to swallow Henrietta's frequently judgmental attitude, which was puzzling at times based on her humble beginnings, and Clive's irritating misogyny and superiority complex. Henrietta's pulled between worlds, as is her sister, Elsie, but while Henrietta is allowing herself to be molded into society's expectations of her, Elsie is not. This -- and the hint that Clive and Henrietta may be bucking the system -- sets up an excellent premise for the next installment in the series. And lucky me! I have four books to read while I wait on the next book (that SURELY must be in the works).

Thank you to iRead Book Tours and the author for providing me a print ARC in exchange for my honest opinion -- the only kind I give.

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Michelle Cox is the author of the multiple award-winning Henrietta and Inspector Howard series as well as "Novel Notes of Local Lore," a weekly blog dedicated to Chicago's forgotten residents. She suspects she may have once lived in the 1930s and, having yet to discover a handy time machine lying around, has resorted to writing about the era as a way of getting herself back there. Coincidentally, her books have been praised by Kirkus, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Booklist and many others, so she might be on to something. Unbeknownst to most, Michelle hoards board games she doesn't have time to play and is, not surprisingly, addicted to period dramas and big band music. Also marmalade.
Connect with the Author:
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courtesy of Michelle Cox, author of A CHILD LOST 
Ends May 18, 2020

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  1. Thank you so much for sharing this fun and sexy mystery series. Must-Read for mystery lovers.

  2. Hi, Kristine! Thanks so much for this amazing review!!! What a small world that we were both at the GirlFriend Weekend together! Thrilled that you picked up the whole series, and I'm so grateful for your very thorough, thoughtful, and positive review. Really means a lot to me. Thank you!!

    1. You are most welcome, Michelle. Fabulous book and looking very much forward to going back into that world with prior books.