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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Still Life with Murder by P B Ryan

still life with murder

Another read which I just discovered was set in the 1860s (two books in a row in the 1860s) we have a Boston elite family the Hewitts who have four sons of their own (two dead in the wars) and two surviving. We have Nell Sweeney who almost accidentally became a governess in the family when Viola Hewitt against all odds and overwhelming gossip I would say of the day, adopted the baby of a maid who did not want this child. 

That was the first improbability for me and only halfway through did I realize what I should I have known, that an old aristocratic woman like Viola Hewitt did not do anything for nothing and there were no half measures either in what she did.

The surprise resurrection of Will the Hewitts eldest son who was presumed dead for three years is the crux of the story. Not only is he back from the dead, he is also under an assumed name and very few people including his brothers know of his survival. Very early on one does come to the point that this is a family that is keeping secrets within secrets and that they are anyway though a family not really that fond of each other.  William is now an opium addict and has been arrested for the murder of a very well known bad egg of the lesser well known parts of Boston. 

It is only his mother who wants to pay for a defence, get him bail, get him resurrected and resuscitated it seems. All his father wants to do is to bury him quietly as possible under the assumed name so that nothing of the scandal touches the great Hewitt name.

The story started very well and then became a bit slow as I felt the technicalities of how opium was smoked was given in too minute detail. It was a bit repetitious at this point but once it got past that point it swiftly got one's attention as you did want to know how this was going to end. 

This was a kindle free download and one which I would recommend to readers who like mystery murder investigations of another age. Police work was very hard at that time and dealing with the rough end of society was definitely not for the faint hearted.

My first read of this author. Will be keeping a look out for the books which will follow.


  1. I'm not crazy about that time period but I do love to read about elite families so I'll consider this book.

  2. Another lovely book review. I do enjoy this time period, especially if there is a good 'who-dunnit' involved.