A review of Mortal Radiance by Kathryn Lasky – coming tomorrow

A sharp mystery, although maybe a few too many historical personages…

I am a big fan of mysteries that use real historical figures as protagonists and/or supporting characters, and I also like mysteries set in the US Southwest, where my dad’s family mostly lives.  So I was intrigued by the possibilities for Kathryn Lasky’s new series featuring Georgia O’Keefe as the detective.   And just as an extra bonus, I also quite like many of Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings…

Mortal Radiance, which is the second book in the series, met my expectations.   It’s sharply written and full of famous characters from the 1930s.  I won’t list them all, since some of the names might be minor spoilers.   But there were a lot, and possibly even a few too many.   I wouldn’t have previously thought that would be possible, but I felt somewhat constrained to have so many well-known characters rubbing elbows, since I kept trying to remember what I knew of everyone’s “real” history, and how they might all actually interact.   Luckily, the Author’s Note at the end helped by filling in some of my blank spots.  And it also vouched for the first-chapter incident involving cremated ashes and concrete (!!!), which I would have bet real money – although not very much real money – was made up.

On the other hand, the wide-ranging plot kept me reading, with some bits of the story line hyper-local, and others cosmopolitan and international.   I very much liked the contrast between Georgia’s approach to solving mysteries, and that of the local sheriff (and Georgia’s lover), Ryan McCaffrey.  And like all good mystery authors, Lasky manages to weave everything together by the end – complete with an unexpected twist or two.

All-in-all, Mortal Radiance is well worth a read if you like historical mysteries.  But if you are sometimes iffy about historicals, you might try the sample first, and see if it’s to your taste.   And finally, my thanks to Severn House and NetGalley for the review copy!

Buy: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | Kobo US | Kobo UK | Kobo Canada

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