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MyNeedToRead

My Need to Read

I love to explore genre fiction, and while I usually go for books with a romantic thread running through it, I just love great character and world building. And since I can hardly stand to let go of my favorite characters, I like series.

The Mysterious Lady Law - Robert Appleton Quick Take: I really enjoyed this tale! It's short (would it count as novella?), but packed with mystery and intrigue. A throwback to the stylings of Wilkie Collins and Arthur Conan Doyle.What is it about 19th- (and early 20th) century Britain that makes for such fun, memorable detective tales? The adventures of Holmes, Poirot, Hartwright… when you think of old-school sleuthing, you often think of that time and place. Or at least I do! ^_^ The notion of ferreting out details on heinous crimes amongst staid and "polite" society is amusing, sitting here a century later.Add to that a layer of steampunk, with wild possibilities and accompanying societal optimism (masking private pessimism, of course). That's what is at the heart of this tale, set in London. At one point in the story a character makes passing reference to Wilkie Collins…and it's an apt acknowledgement for the author to have included. In Lady Law, there's the mysterious crime. There's what's assumed and accepted to have happened, and there's what really occurred. Of course, there's also the tenacious individual who will anything to get to the truth.I loved how the author instilled a sense of potential shadiness in just about everyone and everything. One feels they must question everything that occurs…seemingly innocuous comments; curious coincidences. There are many red herrings tucked away all over the place, but they are plausible and thus serve their indented purpose: to produce doubt, for both the characters and the reader.This story is fairly short…I'd say it's novella length. As such, character exploration remained mostly superficial. The progression of the mystery itself remains front-and-center, which I appreciated. But there was just enough development of the main cast to elicit some concern for their well-being. Due to the length, I also chose to overlook a couple of expository loose-ends.The steampunk element was indeed a necessity to the plot, though that is perhaps not immediately evident. Descriptions were full enough to paint a strong visual picture, and one can make guesses at everything else; I must admit I had no clue what a psammeticum lens or a Leviacrum telescope would look like, but I managed just fine. ^_^I hear-tell that this story is Robert Appleton's first go at steampunk. I think he wove a fun little tale, and hope he has plans to write in the genre again.