Friday, January 22, 2021

Book Review - Betrayal at Ravenswick and High Treason at the Grand Hotel by Kelly Oliver

Book Review - Betrayal at Ravenswick

Betrayal at Ravenswick is a historical mystery set during World War I. Fiona Figg's husband has just left her for another woman and she plunges into work with British Intelligence. She goes to Ravenswick Abbey to investigate a game hunter with a mysterious background, but becomes involved in solving a murder at the manor as well.

I wanted to read this novel because I read the description "Downton Abbey meets Agatha Christie." I adore Downton Abbey and love historical mysteries, so this book seemed right up my alley.

What an enjoyable mystery! It is so well written, with vivid descriptions and a great sense of 1910's period detail. For example:

Andrew and I moved into this flat when we first got married. I’d just turned twenty and was happy to be out of my parents’ house and setting up one of my own. Hard to believe it was 1916 and we’d been married for four years already. I’d immediately fallen in love with the modest two bedroom with high ceilings and large windows facing Warwick Avenue, which was always bustling with life. The kitchen had the newest appliances —an enameled Smith & Philips gas stove, new paraffin lamps from Liberty’s, and of course a telephone mounted on the wall. The glow of the double burner lamp reflecting off the black and white mosaic floor tiles gave it a cheerful feel, and, even then, I knew I’d be happy here. Then the war started. And everything changed" (eBook location 58).

Fiona Figg is a wonderful protagonist! She is intelligent, brave, and has a flair for the dramatic (including clever disguises when detecting). I enjoyed the subtleties of her personality when working at the office, working to solve a mystery, or volunteering as a nurse for wounded servicemen.

I am a great mystery reader and find it rare for the first book in a series to create a whole world the way Betrayal at Ravenswick does. To read this mystery is to be transported to England in 1916.

The mystery aspects of this story were so well done. It was a complex story, with Fiona's surveillance for work overlapping with the murder at Ravenswick. There were several little twists and turns before the denouement.

I highly recommend this book - and series - for fans of historical fiction, and especially for anyone who is interested in the World War I home front in England. 

Book Synopsis - Betrayal at Ravenswick

What’s the best way to purge an unfaithful husband?

Become a spy for British Intelligence, of course.

Desperate to get out of London and determined to help the war effort, Fiona Figg volunteers to go undercover.

It keeps her from thinking about Andrew, her philandering husband.

At Ravenswick Abbey a charming South African war correspondent has tongues wagging.

His friends say he’s a crack huntsman. The War Office is convinced he’s a traitor. Fiona thinks he’s a pompous prig.

What sort of name is Fredrick Fredricks anyway?

Too bad Fiona doesn’t own a Wolseley pith helmet. At Ravenswick a murderer is on the prowl, and it’s not just the big-game hunter who’s ready to pounce.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Book Review -  High Treason at the Grand Hotel

In the second book of the Fiona Figg series, High Treason at the Grand Hotel, Fiona is sent in 1917 to follow the Black Panther to Paris. Enroute she meets Mata Mata Hari on a train! Staying at the Grand Hotel in Paris, Fiona uses numerous disguises to solve the mystery.

I wanted to read this novel because I enjoyed the first book in the series so much. This second novel did not disappoint. I especially enjoyed Fiona's interactions with Mata Hari, and the atmosphere of the Grand Hotel.

It is great fun traveling to Paris with Fiona and watching her cleverly stalk her quarry, especially as she is involved in another murder mystery as well.

I once again enjoyed the period setting, the rich descriptions, and Fiona's quirky, determined character. I recommend this book as well as the first for historical mystery fans. 

Book Synopsis - High Treason at the Grand Hotel

Paris. 1917. Never underestimate the power of a good hat… or a sharp hatpin.

Sent by the War Office to follow the notorious Black Panther, file clerk turned secret agent Fiona Figg is under strict orders not to get too close and not to wear any of her usual “get-ups.”

But what self-respecting British spy can resist a good disguise?

Within hours of her arrival in Paris, Fiona is up to her fake eyebrows in missing maids, jewel thieves, double agents, and high treason.

When Fiona is found dressed as a bellboy holding a bloody paperknife over the body of a dead countess, it’s not just her career that’s on the block.

Her next date might be with Madame Guillotine.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Author Bio

Kelly Oliver grew up in the Northwest, Montana, Idaho, and Washington states. Her maternal grandfather was a forest ranger committed to saving the trees, and her paternal grandfather was a logger hell bent on cutting them down. On both sides, her ancestors were some of the first settlers in Northern Idaho. In her own unlikely story, Kelly went from eating a steady diet of wild game shot by her dad to becoming a vegetarian while studying philosophy and pondering animal minds. Competing with peers who’d come from private schools and posh families “back East,” Kelly’s working class backwoods grit has served her well. And much to her parent’s surprise, she’s managed to feed and cloth herself as a professional philosopher.

When she’s not writing mysteries, Kelly Oliver is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University. She earned her B.A. from Gonzaga University and her Ph.D. from Northwestern University. She is the author of thirteen scholarly books, ten anthologies, and over 100 articles, including work on campus rape, reproductive technologies, women and the media, film noir, and Alfred Hitchcock. Her work has been translated into seven languages, and she has published an op-ed on loving our pets in The New York Times. She has been interviewed on ABC television news, the Canadian Broadcasting Network, and various radio programs.

Kelly lives in Nashville with her husband, Benigno Trigo, and her furry family, Mischief and Mayhem.

Find out more about Kelly at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.



Sara Strand said...

I really enjoyed both of these myself! Thank you for being on this tour. Sara @ TLC Book Tours

trish said...

I'm so glad you loved them! I think they sound like a lot of fun!