Too Hot to Handel (John Pickett Mysteries #5) by Sheri Cobb South (audiobook) – Narrated by Joel Froomkin

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

When a rash of jewel thefts strikes London, magistrate Patrick Colquhoun deploys his Bow Street Runners to put a stop to the crimes. The Russian Princess Olga Fyodorovna is to attend a production of Handel’s Esther at Drury Lane Theatre, where she will wear a magnificent diamond necklace. The entire Bow Street force will be stationed at various locations around the theatre – including John Pickett, who will occupy a box directly across from the princess.

In order to preserve his incognito, Pickett must appear to be a private gentleman attending the theatre. Mr. Colquhoun recommends that he have a female companion – a lady, in fact, who might prevent him from making any glaring faux pas. But the only lady of Pickett’s acquaintance is Julia, Lady Fieldhurst, to whom he accidentally contracted a Scottish irregular marriage several months earlier, and with whom he is seeking an annulment against his own inclinations – and for whom he recklessly declared his love, secure in the belief he would never see her again.

The inevitable awkwardness of their reunion is forgotten when the theatre catches fire. In the confusion, the Russian diamonds are stolen, and Pickett is struck in the head and rendered unconscious. Suddenly it is up to Julia not only to nurse him back to health, but to discover his attacker and bring the culprit – and the jewel thief – to justice.

Rating: Narration – A : Content – B

This fifth John Pickett mystery is a bit of a departure from the other books in the series in that our hero spends a rather large part of it unconscious, leaving his lady-love, Lady Julia Fieldhurst to the bulk of the sleuthing when it comes to solving the mystery of some missing diamonds. That said though, John is nonetheless a major presence in Too Hot to Handel, and Joel Froomkin’s hugely entertaining narration kept me engaged throughout, so I didn’t feel the slightest bit short-changed.

Note: There will be spoilers for earlier books in the series in this review.

It’s three months since Bow Street Runner John Pickett said farewell to the woman he fell in love with almost a year earlier, and a matter of weeks before the case for the annulment of the “irregular marriage” they inadvertently contracted in Scotland comes before the ecclesiastical court. At the end of the previous book, Dinner Most Deadly, he declared his love for Lady Julia Fieldhurst, but also said that they should not meet again; he has always known that the huge gulf in their stations makes any relationship between them impossible, and it’s become too painful for him to keep spending time with her while knowing she can never be his. For Julia it’s been three long, colourless months and none of her usual activities hold much interest for her any more. Even a night out at the theatre is dull until, on the way out, she hears a distressed older lady claiming that her jewels have been stolen. Recalling that the Duchess of Mallen’s rubies had also disappeared while that lady was at the theatre, and that they had been recovered by the Bow Street force, Julia suggests sending for a Runner, and for a few brief minutes, is excited at the prospect of seeing John again – only to come crashing down when someone else appears in his stead.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

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Dinner Most Deadly (John Pickett Mysteries #4) by Sheri Cobb South (audiobook) – Narrated by Joel Froomkin

dinner most deadly

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

When Julia, Lady Fieldhurst, returns from Scotland restless and out of sorts, her friend Emily Dunnington plans a select dinner party with half a dozen male guests from whom Julia may choose a lover.

But Emily’s dinner ends in disaster when one of her guests, Sir Reginald Montague, is shot dead.

When Bow Street Runner John Pickett is summoned to Emily’s house, he is faced with the awkward task of informing Lady Fieldhurst that their recent masquerade as a married couple (Family Plot) has resulted in their being legally wed.

Beset by distractions – including the humiliating annulment procedure and the flattering attentions of Lady Dunnington’s pretty young housemaid – Pickett must find the killer of a man whom everyone has reason to want dead.

Rating: Narration – A : Content – B+

Note: This review contains spoilers for earlier books in the series.

Sheri Cobb South’s series of historical mysteries featuring the charming young Bow Street Runner John Pickett continues apace with the fourth full-length novel in the series, Dinner Most Deadly. It’s another enjoyable mix of murder-mystery and romance, but here, the romantic angle is as much the focus as the mystery, as John and the love of his life, Lady Julia Fieldhurst, struggle to deal with the ramifications of their recent masquerade as Mr. and Mrs. Pickett in book three, Family Plot. This instalment is particularly angsty in terms of their continuing relationship; John has been in love with Julia since they met in book one, In Milady’s Chamber, and while it’s taken Julia longer to realise the truth of her feelings for the thoughtful, insightful and achingly sweet young man who is so devoted to her, she is finally starting to see them for what they really are. But… a viscountess and a thief-taker who earns the princely sum of twenty-five shillings a week? The social divide between them is too great to permit even the merest nodding acquaintance.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals

Family Plot (John Pickett Mysteries #3) by Sheri Cobb South (audiobook) – Narrated by Joel Froomkin

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon.

The third installment of the John Pickett series of humorous Regency mysteries finds Bow Street Runner Pickett in Scotland investigating a woman found unconscious on the beach – a woman who bears a striking resemblance to the local laird’s daughter, a girl missing and presumed dead for the last 15 years.

Pickett is surprised to discover that the woman was found by none other than Lady Fieldhurst and her three young nephews – and gratified to learn that her ladyship has registered at the seaside inn as Mrs. Julia Pickett. When old Angus Kirkbride dies only hours after announcing his intention of changing his will in his daughter’s favor, “Mr. and Mrs. Pickett” must join forces to discover the truth about a family reunion suddenly turned deadly.

Rating: Narration – A : Content – B

Family Plot is book three of Sheri Cobb South’s series of historical mysteries featuring Bow Street Runner John Pickett, a sharply intelligent and quietly charming young man who was rescued from a life of crime by magistrate Patrick Colquhoun, and eventually became the youngest member of the Bow Street force.

In book one, In Milady’s Chamber, John was, by the happy accident of being in the right place at the right time, instrumental in proving the innocence of Lady Julia Fieldhurst, who was accused of the murder of her husband. John has been in love with the beautiful young viscountess ever since he first set eyes on her but is well aware that the vast difference in their stations makes any relationship impossible.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

In Milady’s Chamber (John Pickett Mysteries #1) by Sheri Cobb South (audiobook) – Narrated by Joel Froomkin

in-miladys-chamber

This title is available to download from Audible via Amazon.

Estranged from her husband through her failure to produce an heir, Lady Fieldhurst resolves to repay his neglect by taking a lover. Fate takes a hand when she and her would-be lover enter her bedchamber to find Lord Fieldhurst lying on the floor – with her nail scissors protruding from his neck.

Bow Street Runner John Pickett, 24 years old and new to the Bow Street force, has spent most of his brief career chasing petty thieves and pickpockets. Nothing in his experience has prepared him for low dealings in high society – or for the beautiful young widow who is the chief suspect.

Rating: Narration – B; Content – B-

Sheri Cobb South’s The Weaver Takes a Wife is one of my favourite traditional Regencies, and while I know it’s available in audio, I didn’t like the narrator based on the sample available at Audible, so chose not to listen further. But when the first of the author’s John Pickett Mysteries, In Milady’s Chamber (using a different narrator) came up for review, I decided to give it a go; I enjoy historical mysteries, and have heard good things about this series.

John Pickett made his first appearance in the novella, The Pickpocket’s Apprentice, which told the story of how fourteen-year-old John was taken under the wing of magistrate Patrick Colquhoun and, five years later, became involved in a criminal investigation that brought him to the attention of Bow Street. Now twenty-four, John is the youngest runner on the Bow Street force, and spends his days dealing mostly with petty crimes. But an accident which sees him in the right place at the right time catapults him into a murder investigation and into the rarefied world of the ton, a world outside his experience and which he is ill-equipped to deal with.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.