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2017 Reading Challenge

Jill Elizabeth has read 2 books toward her goal of 150 books.
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Book Reviews: The Jesperson and Lane “Curious Affairs” Series by Lisa Tuttle

The two-second blurb from Amazon: “The paranormal answer to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Jesperson and Lane are turning the Victorian era upside down in this bewitching series from John W. Campbell Award winner Lisa Tuttle.”

The Curious Affair of the Somnambulist & the Psychic Thief
I am a sucker for Sherlock Holmes-type detective stories – a seemingly impossibly-talented individual who sees things the rest of us don’t, usually with the aid of an assistant who seems bumbling/less than helpful but turns out to be the heart of the operation. The Jesperson & Lane series delivers – although this first book wasn’t quite as consistently strong as I’d hoped. It opens very well and the ending is great – there are sections in the middle that continue in that vein, but there are also sections that seem like they’d benefit from tighter editing.

To me, the key to this type of mystery is to keep things relatively straightforward, without too much additional description/setup – that’s the key to the Holmesian type of logical reasoning/deduction, and it helps keep the stories crisp and feeling consistent with the characters. This one meandered a little more than I would have preferred, although it was still quite entertaining. Still, I locked the second title in the series in on NetGalley because I really liked the characters and enjoyed the paranormal angles, which were unexpected in shape and form and made the story more enjoyable for the surprise they represented…

The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross
This second book was a delightful surprise – while I enjoyed the first in the series, I felt that there were some shortcomings and that it would have benefited from a more thorough-going edit. This sequel hit just the right tone I think, and really tightened things up – the result was a thoroughly entertaining mystery that moved at just the right pace throughout.

The characters are what pulled me in to the first book, and what held me through the course of the story, even when it seemed to meander a bit. This time around, the meandering path has been forced into a more structured one and that really allowed the characters to shine… I enjoy Di as a protagonist – she’s a delightful blend of sassy and self-doubting that renders her altogether relatable. Jasper is a bit over the top, but he’s supposed to be somewhat awkward and quirky, like all the best Sherlock-type detectives (up to and including the Great Man himself), and so he plays well as a foil/compatriot to the more grounded Di. The supporting characters more than pull their own weight also, adding a nice insulating layer of intrigue, secrets, and surprises. The supernatural element was significantly played down in this one – I found that aspect to be a bit over-played in the first book, and think that the more straightforward handling of the mystery in this installment read a lot truer to the feel of the world/characters on hand.

The series really stepped up its game here, and I definitely look forward to more Jesperson and Lane adventures!

The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross is available in paperback now; the Kindle edition releases November 28, 2017.

My review copy was provided by NetGalley.

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