Series: Nell Sweeney #1
Genres: Historical, Mystery & Detective
Boston, 1868: The dawn of the Gilded Age, an era of burgeoning commerce and invention, of unimaginable new fortunes and lavish excess—for some. Born into dismal poverty, young Nell Sweeney scratches by on her wits and little else until fortune blesses her with a position as nursery governess to the fabulously wealthy Hewitts. But she soon learns that ugly secrets lurk beneath the surface of their gold-plated world.
The Hewitts’ eldest son, William, a former Union Army battle surgeon and the black sheep of the family, was reported to have died three years before in a notorious Confederate prison camp. But one snowy February afternoon, his parents learn that he is, in fact, still alive—and in jail for having murdered a man while intoxicated on opium. Infuriated by his son’s deception and convinced of his guilt, August Hewitt forbids his wife from coming to Will’s aid, so she begs Nell to help exonerate him. Nell finds that she must delve into the kind of dark and treacherous underworld she thought she’d left far behind if she is to unearth the truth before the hangman’s noose tightens around William Hewitt’s throat.
Incredible scenery and characters, great mystery.
Thoughts on Still Life with Murder
In a lot of ways, this is NOT my normal type of book. And, guys, I couldn’t put it down. The writing depicting the flow of life in post-Civil War Boston is INCREDIBLE. Between the world Nell moves in now and the one she has to slip back into in the course of her investigation, I was completely caught up in it.
Nell. She’s smart and self-sufficient. She can handle pretty much anything she comes across. She’s willing to make sacrifices to get answers. I liked her. I liked how she marched in even when those around her told her to stop searching for answers. I liked how she was unwilling to stop looking when she realized she was Will’s only hope.
And Will. He has some baggage. All of it dragging him down in ways no one but Nell can even remotely understand. As an aside, I honestly loathe drug usage in books and yet I could get behind why Will had fallen into opium. It made sense. He’s a bad, bad place when we first meet him and I could see why he’d not only turn to the drug to escape it, but why he also had no intention of getting clean.
As the first book in the series, we definitely get answers to who the characters are and what drives them. BUT… I also want more. Nell and Will have chemistry, but it’s subtle and the romance looks to be of the slow-burn variety. At least I hope so. Maybe the ‘shipper in me reads more into interactions than is really there. Regardless, Nell and Will team up in the next book and I’m holding out hope for them.