Saturday, June 3, 2023

The Unsolved Case of The Secret Christmas Baby



The Unsolved Case of The Secret Christmas Baby is the first book in a Victorian cozy mystery series by Hannah Byron. Released 6th Dec 2022, it's 236 pages and is available in paperback and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats.  For Kindle Unlimited subscribers, this book is currently included in the KU subscription library to borrow and read for free.

This is such an oddly written book that quite often, the choice of third person present tense overshadows the actual story. It does have many of the well-loved cozy tropes: deathbed confession, secret adoption, Victorian scandal, secret pregnancy, and holiday resolutions, but the pacing never really recedes sufficiently to make it an easy reading experience.

Although it's set in the Victorian era, there are lots of anachronistic phrases sprinkled throughout, for example "right on", the first registered usage of which wasn't for another 30 years. There are also some distractingly odd turns of phrase, for example calling her late husband her "benedict" no fewer than 23 times in the course of the book (his name was Thaddeus). 

All the oddities aside, this is a well written and engagingly constructed story with an interesting mystery and a worthwhile read. The second book in the series, The Peculiar Vanishing Act of Mr Ralph Herriot, is due for release in Aug 2023, and will also be included in the Kindle unlimited library according to the release info.

Three and a half stars. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes. 

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