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The Dead Songbird

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“Death is too good for a whore like you. But He may show you mercy yet. BE PREPARED” Celebrated singer Anna Morgan has come to Northminster to escape a troubled past and sing at the city's Handel Festival. But when she continues to receive the poisonous letters that have been plaguing her, she turns to Chief Constable Major Giles Vernon and Police Surgeon Felix Carswell to “Death is too good for a whore like you. But He may show you mercy yet. BE PREPARED” Celebrated singer Anna Morgan has come to Northminster to escape a troubled past and sing at the city's Handel Festival. But when she continues to receive the poisonous letters that have been plaguing her, she turns to Chief Constable Major Giles Vernon and Police Surgeon Felix Carswell to find her persecutor, drawing the two men into her charismatic orbit. At the same time a talented young tenor is found dead in curious circumstances in a locked chapel, and the hunt for a murderer is on. Together, Vernon and Carswell must untangle the web of secrets that surround the dead man, uncovering a Northminster that throbs with clandestine passions and thwarted desires, a world of illegal pornographic books and risqué theatricals. However, Felix finds himself bedevilled by romantic feelings for the beautiful Anna, who may or may not be his father's mistress, while Giles must face the tragedy of his own marriage before he is able to determine the truth behind the mystery of The Dead Songbird. The Dead Songbird is the second Northminster Mystery featuring early-Victorian detectives Vernon and Carswell.


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“Death is too good for a whore like you. But He may show you mercy yet. BE PREPARED” Celebrated singer Anna Morgan has come to Northminster to escape a troubled past and sing at the city's Handel Festival. But when she continues to receive the poisonous letters that have been plaguing her, she turns to Chief Constable Major Giles Vernon and Police Surgeon Felix Carswell to “Death is too good for a whore like you. But He may show you mercy yet. BE PREPARED” Celebrated singer Anna Morgan has come to Northminster to escape a troubled past and sing at the city's Handel Festival. But when she continues to receive the poisonous letters that have been plaguing her, she turns to Chief Constable Major Giles Vernon and Police Surgeon Felix Carswell to find her persecutor, drawing the two men into her charismatic orbit. At the same time a talented young tenor is found dead in curious circumstances in a locked chapel, and the hunt for a murderer is on. Together, Vernon and Carswell must untangle the web of secrets that surround the dead man, uncovering a Northminster that throbs with clandestine passions and thwarted desires, a world of illegal pornographic books and risqué theatricals. However, Felix finds himself bedevilled by romantic feelings for the beautiful Anna, who may or may not be his father's mistress, while Giles must face the tragedy of his own marriage before he is able to determine the truth behind the mystery of The Dead Songbird. The Dead Songbird is the second Northminster Mystery featuring early-Victorian detectives Vernon and Carswell.

30 review for The Dead Songbird

  1. 5 out of 5

    P.

    Certainly a better read - and book - than the first in this series, but once again the question is: are the characters solving crime or looking for love? This lack of focus detracts as it distracts.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jayne

    Back to the 19th century where we learn more about Felix Carswell and Major Giles Vernon. Again, I am wowed by this story. Getting to know Felix it's becoming clear that he is not only a young man (who needs a good smack) but he's very conflicted as far as his relationship is to Lord Rothborough and women. Major Vernon appears stronger but here we learn more about his weakness... and how tragic is his life! On to the third in the series! Back to the 19th century where we learn more about Felix Carswell and Major Giles Vernon. Again, I am wowed by this story. Getting to know Felix it's becoming clear that he is not only a young man (who needs a good smack) but he's very conflicted as far as his relationship is to Lord Rothborough and women. Major Vernon appears stronger but here we learn more about his weakness... and how tragic is his life! On to the third in the series!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    Another enjoyable book in this series!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Reyna Favis

    I very much enjoyed reading the further adventures of Chief Constable Giles Vernon and Police Surgeon Felix Carswell. Both characters were imperfect but decent men and easy to relate to. What really held my interest in these Northminster mysteries were the descriptions of Victorian morals and manners. Interviewing suspects took on elaborate twists and turns in this context. My only quibble with the story was the Anna Morgan character, the celebrated singer and damsel in distress. It appeared tha I very much enjoyed reading the further adventures of Chief Constable Giles Vernon and Police Surgeon Felix Carswell. Both characters were imperfect but decent men and easy to relate to. What really held my interest in these Northminster mysteries were the descriptions of Victorian morals and manners. Interviewing suspects took on elaborate twists and turns in this context. My only quibble with the story was the Anna Morgan character, the celebrated singer and damsel in distress. It appeared that almost without exception, every straight male character in the story found her to be completely irresistible and became intoxicated by her beauty and charm. While it may have served a purpose in creating tension among the characters, her appeal just seemed a bit over the top. Other than that, the pace of the story was good, I felt embedded in the time period, and I could easily visualize the characters. I downloaded this book during a Bookbub promotion.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Cohen

    This is the second Northminster mystery that I have read, and I think I am seriously addicted to the series. The two main characters, Chief Constable Vernon and surgeon Felix Carswell, are interesting personalities, complete opposites, but both honorable men.This time they are faced with murder in the minster, with many possible culprits. Concurrently, a famous singer in town for a concert has been receiving threatening letters, and she asks for Vernon's help. Felix's meddling father, Lord Rothb This is the second Northminster mystery that I have read, and I think I am seriously addicted to the series. The two main characters, Chief Constable Vernon and surgeon Felix Carswell, are interesting personalities, complete opposites, but both honorable men.This time they are faced with murder in the minster, with many possible culprits. Concurrently, a famous singer in town for a concert has been receiving threatening letters, and she asks for Vernon's help. Felix's meddling father, Lord Rothborough, continues to exasperate Felix, although Lord Rothborough is extremely capable in a crisis. AND, Vernon, Felix, and Lorth Northborough are all in love with the singer. The draw in the story is not the crime solution, but the personalities and their emotions that the author is able to describe. There are a few loose ends, but maybe they will be tied up in future stories.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    First was better This is my honest and voluntary review. The Northminster Mysteries Book 2, The Dead Songbird, is a decent mystery. My problem with the book was all the focus on sexual immortality. I thoroughly understand that sex & sexual deviations are a part of life, both then & now, but I feel that the subject is being over used by the author. There is a higher concentration on the sexual thoughts of the main characters & suspects then I thought necessary. More for shock value than good writi First was better This is my honest and voluntary review. The Northminster Mysteries Book 2, The Dead Songbird, is a decent mystery. My problem with the book was all the focus on sexual immortality. I thoroughly understand that sex & sexual deviations are a part of life, both then & now, but I feel that the subject is being over used by the author. There is a higher concentration on the sexual thoughts of the main characters & suspects then I thought necessary. More for shock value than good writing. I am much more interested in the crimes themselves than the passions of the main characters. More time could have been spent on the mysteries. I'm not sure if I wish to read another, as I worry that shock value & soap opera dealings are in further books. It's too bad, as the first book was balanced better & a better mystery.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Derek Sanderson

    Excellent mystery writer, disappointing content I did not finish this book. It is the second and last I will read from this author. This saddens me, as I deeply enjoy her bright, engaging, suspenseful writing style punctuated with humour. I just don't care for certain elements. In this book, one of the protagonists was aroused by a mother nursing her infant! DISGUSTING!!!! Later, he continuously fawns over a married woman; the immoral details were nauseating!! Then, there appears to be dalliances Excellent mystery writer, disappointing content I did not finish this book. It is the second and last I will read from this author. This saddens me, as I deeply enjoy her bright, engaging, suspenseful writing style punctuated with humour. I just don't care for certain elements. In this book, one of the protagonists was aroused by a mother nursing her infant! DISGUSTING!!!! Later, he continuously fawns over a married woman; the immoral details were nauseating!! Then, there appears to be dalliances between men and sordid meetings where men play dress-up (in a manner of speaking). Nothing I wish to read about. Ever! I am not interested in mysteries with this kind of content, no matter the first -rate quality of writing. Yet, I will give three stars, as I think the author is otherwise a talented story-teller.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Siobhan Johnson

    DNF at 50% It's rare that a book actually repulses me, but this one managed to make me throw it aside in disgust. A rare feat! I really enjoyed the first one in the series, so was excited to pick up the second one and return to the world. The first one had a few problems with how it treated women, as I recall, but overall it was very enjoyable and I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt! I shouldn't have given it the benefit of the doubt. I should've burnt it while invoking the ghost of M DNF at 50% It's rare that a book actually repulses me, but this one managed to make me throw it aside in disgust. A rare feat! I really enjoyed the first one in the series, so was excited to pick up the second one and return to the world. The first one had a few problems with how it treated women, as I recall, but overall it was very enjoyable and I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt! I shouldn't have given it the benefit of the doubt. I should've burnt it while invoking the ghost of Mary Wollstonecraft, that's what I should've done. The book starts with Felix ogling one of his employees and making an offer of prostitution to her, and only gets worse from there. By the time he attempts to sexually assault a woman at the 50% mark I was done. I don't want to read about this disgusting excuse for a human being solving crimes, I want to read about him becoming the victim of them. Ugh. What an incredible disappointment.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Janet Mahlum

    The book was only marginally okay. The two "heroes" are once again more caught up with the fairer sex than with solving the mystery. There are actually 2 mysteries, neither terribly compelling. Once again the two villains were fairly obvious. The book was definitely more tedious than exciting. I only wanted the story to be over and done with. I have books 1, 2, and 3 on my kindle so will need to read book 3 for completeness sake, but no more. I don't really care what happens to either hero. RIP The book was only marginally okay. The two "heroes" are once again more caught up with the fairer sex than with solving the mystery. There are actually 2 mysteries, neither terribly compelling. Once again the two villains were fairly obvious. The book was definitely more tedious than exciting. I only wanted the story to be over and done with. I have books 1, 2, and 3 on my kindle so will need to read book 3 for completeness sake, but no more. I don't really care what happens to either hero. RIP

  10. 5 out of 5

    Randall Krzak

    I thoroughly enjoyed the exploits of Chief Constable Major Giles Vernon and Police Surgeon Felix Carswell in the first novel of the series and wasn’t disappointed to follow them as they try to identify the killer of a talented singer. Set in the Victorian era, it’s easy to immerse oneself into the rigors of life during this period. I thoroughly enjoyed following Giles and Felix as they unravel the mystery they’re faced with. With an excellent blend of historical facts and well-written fiction, I I thoroughly enjoyed the exploits of Chief Constable Major Giles Vernon and Police Surgeon Felix Carswell in the first novel of the series and wasn’t disappointed to follow them as they try to identify the killer of a talented singer. Set in the Victorian era, it’s easy to immerse oneself into the rigors of life during this period. I thoroughly enjoyed following Giles and Felix as they unravel the mystery they’re faced with. With an excellent blend of historical facts and well-written fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed the story and look forward to the next installment in the series.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    1840 Northminister and singer Anna Morgan has arrived in the area and asked to see Major Giles Vernon, the Chief Constable concerning vile threathening letters she has received. But he and Dr Felix Carswell are called away to investigate a death. We learn more about the private lives of Vernon and Carswell, so a mix of mystery and romance but an enjoyable read and I look forward to reading the next in the series

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nina

    Crime mystery set in Victorian England. I found the "victim," a singer who seemed intent on seducing anything in pants and who routinely made stupid decisions, to to be annoying. I do really like the inspector (this part of a series). The police force physician is likeable but incredibly immature (and easily seduced). It is irritating that the aristocracy were treated like they were to be believed just because they were rich, but that was the reality of the times Crime mystery set in Victorian England. I found the "victim," a singer who seemed intent on seducing anything in pants and who routinely made stupid decisions, to to be annoying. I do really like the inspector (this part of a series). The police force physician is likeable but incredibly immature (and easily seduced). It is irritating that the aristocracy were treated like they were to be believed just because they were rich, but that was the reality of the times

  13. 4 out of 5

    Justin Kneissler

    Good Read The Dead Songbird, book 2 of the Northminster series was an enjoyable read. This is a series I will continue with. I enjoy the main characters and the situations they get themselves into. On a different note i did notice many errors in the text, repeated words, some pronoun errors and punctuation issues. These should be reviewed and fixed as the small errors detract from the flow of reading and the enjoyment of the stories

  14. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    This second in the Northminster Murder series once again takes us back to the early Victorian era and our two protagonists from the first book are even more at odds. The characters are developing well and even more interesting than before. The mystery is well plotted, and the historic background continues to fascinate me. I'm looking forward to keeping up with the series. This second in the Northminster Murder series once again takes us back to the early Victorian era and our two protagonists from the first book are even more at odds. The characters are developing well and even more interesting than before. The mystery is well plotted, and the historic background continues to fascinate me. I'm looking forward to keeping up with the series.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tea

    Smart mystery Satisfying second instalment to the Northminster series. More than anything else, the continued development of the two protagonists -- they are consistently drawn, even as show some little growth from the previous book -- is this book's strong point. I found myself as eagerly anticipating their actions as I did the solving of the mystery. Smart mystery Satisfying second instalment to the Northminster series. More than anything else, the continued development of the two protagonists -- they are consistently drawn, even as show some little growth from the previous book -- is this book's strong point. I found myself as eagerly anticipating their actions as I did the solving of the mystery.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    Another very entertaining novel from Harriet Smart, what I like about her writing is that it seemingly transports you back to this period, or at least her idea of how this period was like. The characters are developing from the first book and the use of language is wonderful. A great series that I will return to again.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Cannot put down I rarely read novels. I preferred non fiction but I already like ms Smart's major Vernon and surgeon Carswell from the first novel. The mystery of this book was quite interesting and the effort to solve it made a lot of sense. I already plan to buy the 3rd book from this series Cannot put down I rarely read novels. I preferred non fiction but I already like ms Smart's major Vernon and surgeon Carswell from the first novel. The mystery of this book was quite interesting and the effort to solve it made a lot of sense. I already plan to buy the 3rd book from this series

  18. 4 out of 5

    Vicky

    I think I liked the first one better, although the author seems to be fleshing out the characters for us. In this story, there is an opera singer visiting, but she is having some trouble and our chief and surgeon are going to try to help her. They are also trying to solve the murder of a young choristor at the same time

  19. 5 out of 5

    Carol Quayle

    The mystery itself was pretty simple. The sexual frustrated Major And Carswell take up way too much time. I got the 3 book set thinking I was in for a good mystery, rarely would I pick up a book that as another reader said was a soap opera. I understand it was Victorian times, but get on with the mystery and get over the sexual fantasy.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Eva

    Interesting well written murder mystery! This well written murder mystery is a very intriguing story of days gone by! I love the way the author describes the scenes and characters that create visuals in the mind when reading! Great story line and I highly recommend this one!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jackie Sande

    Basic bodice ripper. Two main characters are men with an adolescent fixation on sex. The sex scenes are gratuitous, contrived and cringe-worthy. I hope the paragraph describing Giles talking his way into Mrs. Morgan's bed was supposed to be funny. Anne Perry has nothing to worry about. Basic bodice ripper. Two main characters are men with an adolescent fixation on sex. The sex scenes are gratuitous, contrived and cringe-worthy. I hope the paragraph describing Giles talking his way into Mrs. Morgan's bed was supposed to be funny. Anne Perry has nothing to worry about.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mary Beth

    Wonderfully done, very natural. Once again Dr. Farewell and Major Vernon have their hands full with another murder. Heaven help them and those who love songbirds!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Larry

    Great book, a few minor editing errors but nothing too distracting.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Peggy

    I enjoyed this book, it was slow in some places, but it kept me guessing on who done it. I enjoy carswells and the inspector and how they interact together.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bronwyn

    Good mystery Solid story but moves a little slow. A lot of character study and agonizing over unrequited love. Still a good mystery.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    I didn't like this book as well as the first in the series. I didn't like this book as well as the first in the series.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    Okay, so the main characters fall in lust or live with everything with tits. Plus the villains stuck our Luke a sore thumb.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Astrid

    Lots of missing words, very bad editing indeed.

  29. 4 out of 5

    IndieHeart

    I am so lucky to have grabbed this deftly plotted story on a free promotion day. I am now a confirmed fan of detectives Vernon and Carswell. I will be picking up the first one of this series soon and look forward to further additions to the series over time. The story follows detectives Vernon and Carswell as they investigate two unrelated crimes while sorting out their family and romantic relationships in their spare time. (Please note: there are romantic relationships because flesh and blood pe I am so lucky to have grabbed this deftly plotted story on a free promotion day. I am now a confirmed fan of detectives Vernon and Carswell. I will be picking up the first one of this series soon and look forward to further additions to the series over time. The story follows detectives Vernon and Carswell as they investigate two unrelated crimes while sorting out their family and romantic relationships in their spare time. (Please note: there are romantic relationships because flesh and blood people generally have romantic relationships, but there is in no way a "romance" overtone to the tale.) Harriet Smart does a great job interweaving the threads of the different plot lines so that everything comes together for a satisfying conclusion. Ms. Smart is such a very good writer, it is difficult to know where to start. First, the Victorian setting is beautifully brought to life. There was nothing anachronistic in the way that the characters spoke or behave. The inclusion of the small touches of the day-to-day lives and interests of the characters gave the book authenticity. Fortunately, the cultural components were not overexplained. Features of the time that were essential to the understanding of why certain characters would behave the way the did were subtly introduced and defined for the reader who might be unfamiliar with the mores of the times. This particular story highlights the sexually schizophrenic attitudes of the Victorian age. Women could be ruined by the most innocent behavior with a man but, at the same time, it was accepted and encouraged that men would seek sexual partners outside of marriage. Female partners, mind you. Heaven forbid that you would be gay in Victorian times! That, in itself, would tuck you safely away in prison. Ms. Smart also has a real gift for characterization. Her characters are complex, real, and human. While the two main characters are clearly the good guys, they are also good guys with very human shortcomings. I liked them, and I wanted them to succeed, although I sometimes wished Felix would stop being so chronically bewildered where women are concerned! (Then again, this is something I generally wish about most men.) Overall, I would recommend this novel to fans of the detective novel and historical fiction in general. You do not have to have read the other book in the series in order to jump in. This review was originally written for IndieHeart.com

  30. 5 out of 5

    edifanob

    This is for fans of Victorian mysteries. The series started with The Butchered Man which liked a lot and if you want to participate in the character development of the two main characters - Chief Constable Major Vernon and police surgeon Felix Carswell - then I highly recommend to read it first. The Dead Songbird comes with a different pace and very emotional actions. It is a book about buggery in Victorian era and it is about the impact of a femme fatale on men. Of course there are two mysteries - This is for fans of Victorian mysteries. The series started with The Butchered Man which liked a lot and if you want to participate in the character development of the two main characters - Chief Constable Major Vernon and police surgeon Felix Carswell - then I highly recommend to read it first. The Dead Songbird comes with a different pace and very emotional actions. It is a book about buggery in Victorian era and it is about the impact of a femme fatale on men. Of course there are two mysteries - a murder case and a kind of stalking - without the story would not work. Nevertheless they are the explicit expression of the actions and emotions of the characters in Victorian society. I look forward to see how Vernon and Carswell will develop in the next book.

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