Book Review: A Mortal Likeness

A Mortal Likeness

by: Laura Joh Rowland

Publication Date: January 9, 2018
Finished on: January 5, 2018
Publisher: Crooked Lane Book

I was provided with a free copy of A Mortal Likeness by the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, in return for my honest review.  All thoughts expressed below are my own.

A Mortal Likeness by Laura Joh Rowland is called a "Victorian Mystery" and is the second book a series.  I was told that this can be read as a standalone and did not personally read the first book in this series (The Ripper's Shadow), but can agree that I did not feel like I needed the first novel to understand or enjoy A Mortal Likeness.

A Mortal Likeness centers around main character Miss Sarah Bain, as she and her comrade, Lord Hugh Staunton try to solve a kidnapping case for a prominent family.  I would compare this novel to any lighter detective novels, except that it takes place in Victorian times and thus without any modern conveniences.  Below is the Goodreads synopsis:

"A photographer in Whitechapel, London, Sarah Bain is also a private detective—skilled at capturing others’ dark secrets, and expert at keeping her own. When a wealthy banker, Sir Gerald Mariner, posts a handsome reward for finding his missing infant, all of London joins in, hoping to win that money for themselves. 

Usually discouraged by a saturated market, Sarah is instead curiously allured as she realizes the case hits much closer to home than she first thought.
As she dives in, she discovers a photograph of baby Robin Mariner and his mother. But it eerily resembles the post-mortem photographs Sarah, herself, takes of deceased children posed to look as if they were alive. Now it’s unclear whether the kidnapping is a cover-up to hide the reality of his disappearance, or if it’s truly a cry for help.

The clock is ticking and Sarah must uncover the truth before her past catches up to her in A Mortal Likeness, the gripping follow-up to bestselling author Laura Joh Rowland’s The Ripper’s Shadow."

My review:
I would describe A Mortal Likeness as a cozy mystery, although there are sexual encounters alluded to or briefly described and minor violence, although not graphic.  

Overall, I liked this novel - I wanted to know what happened and honestly wasn't sure who exactly to suspect as the kidnapper until the author revealed it.  If you enjoy detective novels or mysteries, plus love a side of historical fiction, then this will totally be a novel that is to your tasting.  

The novel appears well researched and was very well written.  There is a large cast of characters for the reader to enjoy, although I felt that Sarah is the only one who goes through much character development in this novel.  But at the end of the day, this novel is about the mystery plot and I think this was a solid mystery novel.  I love when mysteries are able to keep me in the dark until the author decides to reveal what happened!  Plus, there are some characters that are just so perfect to hate in this one!

Unfortunately, the main character, Sarah Bain, was not my favorite heroine.  While she does have some independence, I couldn't help but compare her to the main characters in the Lady Sherlock series and find her lacking.  She still requires a male friend to house her and connect her in society and she definitely has some father issues going on.  Overall, I was just prefer a stronger female lead.  

The characters all also felt extremely naive to me - they quickly suspected or trusted characters and didn't seem to think through their actions.  I love a smart detective (think Gamache or Charlotte Holmes) who alludes even the reader about what is happening.  You will NOT get that in this novel.  I found myself wanting to shake the main characters whenever they decided to follow though on a foolish plan.  

Would I pick up other novels in this series?  I don't think I'd seek them out, but I'd definitely pick them up for a lighter read.  Sometimes a low stress and fun mystery is just what you need to get you through a bit of a reading slump.

Thank you to Crooked Lane Books for reaching out to me to read and review this novel.  Crooked Lane books is a crime fiction imprint and has been publishing some stellar novels.  I can't wait to see what else you publish in 2018!


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