Thursday, 17 September 2015

Still life with murder - P.B.Ryan

Still life with murder P.B.Ryan
I think I've said before that as much as I love reading real books, I wouldn't be without my kindle. One of the many great things about it, is that it has allowed me to find books and authors that I would have never come across in a million years. The self-publishing phenomenon which has grown alongside the popularity of e-readers, has it's downsides, there are stories out there that probably should never have been published. On the other hand, there are some wonderful writers who are publishing their own books and reaching an audience that they would never have encountered before. 

One of my favourite books (and authors) to have discovered this way is Still Life With Murder by P.B.Ryan. Actually, I would go a lot further than that, the Nell Sweeney books are some of my favourite books anyway, not just from those I've discovered via my kindle. Reading some of P.B.Ryan's other novels (under the name Patricia Ryan) actually made me realise that I do actually like romance books. Or at least some romance books, there is still a lot of rubbish out there. Modern technology and social media have also helped me find quite a few other authors I enjoy, as self-publishers seem to be quite good at promoting one another. Enough about all of that though, this is supposed to be a review of Still Life with Murder, not some ramble about self-publishing and kindle books.

Still Life With Murder is set in the late 1860's in Boston, America. Our heroine is Nell Sweeney, an Irish girl who has survived a rough beginning to find herself as governess to a wealthy, Boston family. She has become close to her employer, Viola Hewett and when the black sheep of the family, Will Hewitt, who was presumed dead in Andersonville during the American civil war, turns up having been arrested for murder, it's to Nell that Viola turns.

We're taken into the dark underbelly of Boston where whores, drinking, and opium smoking are the order of the day. Nell is in a unique position, being a member of a respectable household, but also having grown up around the darker side of life herself, she is not as delicate and shockable as other members of more respectable society might be. She also has more freedom to visit some of these places and do some investigating. One of the huge draws to this book is Nell, her character is very likeable and well-drawn. I did wonder slightly about how plausible her becoming a governess was, the first time I read this, but it works so well for the story, and I really don't mind suspending belief slightly, it really is a small thing.

The other main character in Still Life With Murder as Will Hewitt. A broken man, dependent on opium and not really caring if he lives or dies. There is something about him that really draws you to him, despite all of his faults. Somewhere hidden under all of the emotional turmoil and mess, is really a good, decent, caring, person. 

I do love a good murder, or, as I should perhaps quickly clarify, a good fictional murder, then trying to find out who-done-it, ideally before the end of the book. This being the third time that I've read Still Life, I already knew who the guilty party was, but it didn't stop me from enjoying the book all the same. The first time I read it, I was kept guessing until the end, but in the spirit of all good murder mysteries, the final reveal worked and didn't leave me thinking 'huh?' 

Even though I've now read this three times, I doubt it will be the last time I read it. I'm looking forward to moving onto the next in the series.