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London, 1893: Private enquiry agents Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn are called in to protect Tsesarevich Nicholas from nefarious forces as he travels to England for a royal wedding—in Dance with Death, the next mystery in Will Thomas’s beloved series. In June of 1893, the future Nicholas II travels to London for a royal wedding, bringing with him his private security forc London, 1893: Private enquiry agents Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn are called in to protect Tsesarevich Nicholas from nefarious forces as he travels to England for a royal wedding—in Dance with Death, the next mystery in Will Thomas’s beloved series. In June of 1893, the future Nicholas II travels to London for a royal wedding, bringing with him his private security force and his ballerina mistress, Mathilde Kchessinska. Rumored to be the target of a professional assassin known only as La Sylphide, and the subject of conspiracies against his life by his own family who covet his future throne, Nicholas is protected by not only private security, but the professional forces of both England and Russia. All of these measures prove inadequate when Prince George of England is attacked by an armed anarchist who mistakes him for Nicholas. As a result, Barker and Llewelyn are brought in to help track down the assassin and others who might conspire against the life of the tsesarevich . The investigations lead them down several paths, including Llewelyn's old nemesis, the assassin Sofia Ilyanova. With Barker and Llewelyn both surviving separate attempts on their lives, the race is on to find both the culprit and the assassin they hired. Taking them through high society (including a masked ball at Kensington Palace) and low, chasing down motives both personal and political, Barker and Llewelyn must solve the case of their life before the crime of the century is committed.


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London, 1893: Private enquiry agents Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn are called in to protect Tsesarevich Nicholas from nefarious forces as he travels to England for a royal wedding—in Dance with Death, the next mystery in Will Thomas’s beloved series. In June of 1893, the future Nicholas II travels to London for a royal wedding, bringing with him his private security forc London, 1893: Private enquiry agents Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn are called in to protect Tsesarevich Nicholas from nefarious forces as he travels to England for a royal wedding—in Dance with Death, the next mystery in Will Thomas’s beloved series. In June of 1893, the future Nicholas II travels to London for a royal wedding, bringing with him his private security force and his ballerina mistress, Mathilde Kchessinska. Rumored to be the target of a professional assassin known only as La Sylphide, and the subject of conspiracies against his life by his own family who covet his future throne, Nicholas is protected by not only private security, but the professional forces of both England and Russia. All of these measures prove inadequate when Prince George of England is attacked by an armed anarchist who mistakes him for Nicholas. As a result, Barker and Llewelyn are brought in to help track down the assassin and others who might conspire against the life of the tsesarevich . The investigations lead them down several paths, including Llewelyn's old nemesis, the assassin Sofia Ilyanova. With Barker and Llewelyn both surviving separate attempts on their lives, the race is on to find both the culprit and the assassin they hired. Taking them through high society (including a masked ball at Kensington Palace) and low, chasing down motives both personal and political, Barker and Llewelyn must solve the case of their life before the crime of the century is committed.

30 review for Dance with Death

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    This is one of those series that is on my annual to-read list. Each book delivers an atmospheric tale full of mystery & intrigue set in Victorian England. But I also enjoy catching up with Barker & Llewelyn because after 11 books together, I kind of feel like a third partner. In this outing, B&L are tasked with protecting Tsarevich Nicholas of Russia who is in town for the wedding of one of his royal cousins. It seems there are those who believe he’d make a terrible Tsar & prefer he not make it b This is one of those series that is on my annual to-read list. Each book delivers an atmospheric tale full of mystery & intrigue set in Victorian England. But I also enjoy catching up with Barker & Llewelyn because after 11 books together, I kind of feel like a third partner. In this outing, B&L are tasked with protecting Tsarevich Nicholas of Russia who is in town for the wedding of one of his royal cousins. It seems there are those who believe he’d make a terrible Tsar & prefer he not make it back to St. Petersburg. Dissidents, anarchists, Marxists & even members of the royal household….unfortunately there’s no shortage of potential suspects. Throw in one remarkably accurate sniper & it’s clear the enquiry agents have their work cut out for them. On the personal side of things, Barker continues to be the intriguing & enigmatic half of the partnership. Llewelyn is enjoying married life, still amazed Rebecca said yes. But when a shadowy figure from his past reappears, that relationship is tested. All the regular cast is back. With the arrival of Rebecca, Barker’s big house is a busier place for majordomo Mac. He thinks he runs things but let’s not kid ourselves. The real power continues to be wielded by Harm, Barker’s aloof Pekingese. Who’d have thunk so much attitude could be contained in one small, floofy dog. As usual, there are several subplots running alongside the main course. Secondary characters, particularly those from “lower” classes, add colour & the mix of vernaculars is frequently entertaining. From Buckingham Palace to seedy bedsits in gaslit alleys, the author effectively evokes the period so you feel like you’re walking (or running) with the MC’s. By the end, those behind the plot are unmasked & it’s clear Nicholas’ problems have just begun (and we all know how THAT turned out 😧 ). But the author also delivers one final surprise that guarantees we’ll be waiting anxiously for book #13.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Shindler

    I am always excited to read a book combining a clever plot and well developed characters set in an interesting historical period. Therefore, I was salivating when the latest book in the Barker and Llewelyn series arrived. The series combines crackling characters, plenty of repartee in the dialogue and meticulous research describing the waning years of the Victorian era. The twelfth book in the series maintains the high standard set forth in the earlier installments. Will Thomas draws on an actual I am always excited to read a book combining a clever plot and well developed characters set in an interesting historical period. Therefore, I was salivating when the latest book in the Barker and Llewelyn series arrived. The series combines crackling characters, plenty of repartee in the dialogue and meticulous research describing the waning years of the Victorian era. The twelfth book in the series maintains the high standard set forth in the earlier installments. Will Thomas draws on an actual event from 1893 and constructs an imagined drama that captivates and entertains. Tsarevich Nicholas, heir to the Russian throne, visits London to attend the wedding of his cousin, George, Queen Victoria’s second son, to Princess Mary Teck. Europe is fermenting with radical ideas that question the viability of the existing hierarchical social order and the upcoming spectacle elicits conflicting responses. The aristocracy is delighted at another event that strengthens the alliances among the ruling houses of Europe.Social reformers,including ordinary citizens, Socialists and anarchists are questioning the expense of this display of wealth and consanguinity at a time when much of the populace is poor and hungry. Barker and Llewelyn receive a caller, Jim Hercules.He is a black man from Alabama who is a former boxer who is now a member of Nicholas’ security force.He is fond of the young and impetuous heir and fears that an attempt is afoot to assassinate the young Prince.Although both the Russians and British are providing security, there are factions from both countries who have doubts about Nicholas’ capabilities as a future ruler and would like to see him permanently removed from the line of inheritance.Jim has befriended the young man and would like the private enquiry agents to provide an unofficial level of protection. Although the duo initially decline the assignment, subsequent events draw them into the maelstrom of events. Their reluctantly assumed task brings them into contact with royalty,socialists, anarchists, assassins and the detritus of London street life. They cross paths with Eleanor Marx, Karl’s daughter, William Morris, social revolutionary and creator of the Morris chair, and Prince George of Greece and Denmark. The intermingling of the fictional and historical characters works well and humanizes historical events that can sometimes seem remote and not understood in personal terms. Barker and Llewelyn are wonderfully conceived characters. I have always thought that they are derivative of Holmes and Watson, portraying a different segment of the rapidly evolving social structure.They are embedded close to the halls of power but are not English per se. Barker is Scots. Llewelyn is Welsh. They embody an amalgam of cultures and influences and bring a slightly different perspective to the pursuit and dispensation of justice. Reacquainting with these characters is always a delight.A reader who has never met them will be in for a newly discovered pleasure.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bonnye Reed

    I received a free electronic ARC of this historical novel based on actual history from Netgalley, Will Thomas, and St Martin's Press. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read 'Dance with Death' of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. Will Thomas is an author you can count on to bring you an exciting, authentic look into British life in the late 19th century. 'Dances with Death' is the 12th of the Barker & Llewelyn novels, and though the a I received a free electronic ARC of this historical novel based on actual history from Netgalley, Will Thomas, and St Martin's Press. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read 'Dance with Death' of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. Will Thomas is an author you can count on to bring you an exciting, authentic look into British life in the late 19th century. 'Dances with Death' is the 12th of the Barker & Llewelyn novels, and though the action seems a bit more frantic in this one, it is still fresh with exciting attention to details of life as it transpired in London in 1893. Our main protagonists are Cyrus Barker the crusty curmudgeon, and the rather brash newly wedded Thomas Llewelyn, inquiry agents in central London. This tale is wrapped around the first Royal wedding in England for 30 years in June of 1893. Royalty from all over Europe had congregated in London to attend the nuptials, swelling the population of the capital city to overflowing. The secondary purpose of that gathering was to finalize an alliance between Tsarevitch Nicholas II of Russia (Nicholai II Alexandrovich Romanov) and Princess Alix of Hess (Alexandra Feodorovna, granddaughter of Queen Victoria). Barker and Llewelyn are engaged by the self-appointed bodyguard of Nicholas, Jim Hercules, to assist in covering the young prince during the turmoil and excitement of the reunion of Royals in London. And Nicholas II brought plenty of trouble with him to London, including his callow youth, sense of entitlement, and his mistress, prima ballerina of the Saint Petersburg Imperial Theatre, Mathilde Kschessinska. Other notable characters stirred into the mix are Eleanor Marx, daughter of Karl; Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich of Russia; Prince George of Greece and Denmark; William Morris, British novelist, and textile designer; Pyotr Rachkovsky, Chief of the Secret Police in Imperial Russia; the English Prince George, Duke of York; the rumored French assassin known only as La Sylphide; and American boxer, bodyguard, and friend of young Nicholas, Jim Hercules. Dance with Death is a compelling tale told very well. Will Thomas is an author I follow, and can heartily recommend to friends and family. He makes European history exciting and new. pub date April 13, 2021 St. Martin's Press - Minotaur Books Reviewed on March 30, 2021, at Goodreads, and Netgalley. Reviewed on April 13, 2021, at AmazonSmile, Barnes&Noble, BookBub, Kobo, and GooglePlay.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sharyn

    It begins with a poetic description of a deep baritone voice, and the captivating Dance with Death begins. In the last decade of the 1890’s, in London, a man, born in British-owned Tortola and raised in Alabama, U.S.A., visits the enquiry agency offices of Guv Cyrus Baker and Thomas Llewelyn and is asked what duty he would like them to perform. His cogent answer is he isn’t sure but he would like his boss not to be murdered. This man, Jim Hercules, seems to be a bodyguard for the visiting tsarevic It begins with a poetic description of a deep baritone voice, and the captivating Dance with Death begins. In the last decade of the 1890’s, in London, a man, born in British-owned Tortola and raised in Alabama, U.S.A., visits the enquiry agency offices of Guv Cyrus Baker and Thomas Llewelyn and is asked what duty he would like them to perform. His cogent answer is he isn’t sure but he would like his boss not to be murdered. This man, Jim Hercules, seems to be a bodyguard for the visiting tsarevich of Russia, Nicholas II, who has come to Britain to attend the wedding of Queen Victoria’s son George. A supposed attempt on the life of His Highness George sets in motion a frantic search for the possible assassin. With the royal wedding only days away, class and position, plots and passions, unrequited love, and the growing socialist movement all play a part of the past, the present and the future of the Windsor and Romanov families. Historical and colorful characters such as Eleanor, the daughter of Karl Marx, William Morris known for his textiles, Grand Dukes, mistresses, and a prima ballerina are central to the narrative of the Socialist League and social history of that period. Jim Hercules himself was actually the bodyguard to Nicholas and Alexandra until the palace was overrun by Bolsheviks. This is a beautifully written account of one imaginary event in a period of history with the engaging team of Baker and Llewelyn. Along with the twists and turns of governments, movements, social and political concerns, human desires and weaknesses, it creates a great chase in and around the pubs, parks, offices and palaces of London. I have found there are 11 previous books for this team, and I can’t imagine how I missed them before.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Judy Lesley

    In June 1893 Queen Victoria is still arranging marriages for royals and, indeed, a wedding is about to take place. Arriving in London is Nicholas, the Russian tsarevich, who is in town to attend the wedding of Victoria's son George to Princess Mary of Teck. A member of the Russian household tries to hire Barker & Llewelyn as bodyguards for Nicholas because he fears an attempt will be made by an assassin to kill the young man but is refused. Even though Cyrus Barker is intrigued by the job offer, In June 1893 Queen Victoria is still arranging marriages for royals and, indeed, a wedding is about to take place. Arriving in London is Nicholas, the Russian tsarevich, who is in town to attend the wedding of Victoria's son George to Princess Mary of Teck. A member of the Russian household tries to hire Barker & Llewelyn as bodyguards for Nicholas because he fears an attempt will be made by an assassin to kill the young man but is refused. Even though Cyrus Barker is intrigued by the job offer, that is not the type of job the private enquiry agents are interested in taking. The political climate in England at this time makes it impossible for the agency to remain distanced from what is going on within the Russian delegation. This story is set during a turbulent time in the politics of England and there are many disturbances working their way through the populace. This is also a story where true historical figures can honestly be placed within a story because they are known to have been involved in the politics of this time. William Morris and Eleanor Marx (daughter of Karl Marx) were two characters I was particularly interested in reading about. I think this is an excellent addition to the Barker and Llewelyn series and it leaves us with quite a revelation which bodes well for the next installment. I will be glad to read that one too. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press Minotaur Books for an e-galley of this novel.

  6. 5 out of 5

    W.

    This was such an awesome read. It completely transported me to Victorian England . The mystery , investigation and villain (villains) was engrossing and entertaining. One of the things I enjoyed the most was all the research involved ...very atmospheric, layered world-building. I just reviewed Dance with Death by Will Thomas. #NetGalley

  7. 4 out of 5

    Anita

    This was an interesting private detective mystery with a main character that was easy to like, even though he had a questionable past. That past made the mystery even more compelling. Many of the characters are real people from history, and it was fascinating reading about them in this story. I felt the ending wasn't as satisfying as I wanted it to be, though. It left me feeling sad. This was an interesting private detective mystery with a main character that was easy to like, even though he had a questionable past. That past made the mystery even more compelling. Many of the characters are real people from history, and it was fascinating reading about them in this story. I felt the ending wasn't as satisfying as I wanted it to be, though. It left me feeling sad.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Rogers

    Series: Barker and Llewelyn #12 Publication Date: 4/13/21 Number of Pages: 320 Russians have invaded London! Well, not really, but it sure seems like it in this newest release in the Victorian Barker and Llewelyn series. The enigmatic Barker and the intrepid Llewelyn definitely have their work cut out for them in trying to untangle the web of intrigue and assassination aimed at Russia’s royal family – or is it England’s royal family in the crosshairs? Oh! You’ll not be able to put this one down unt Series: Barker and Llewelyn #12 Publication Date: 4/13/21 Number of Pages: 320 Russians have invaded London! Well, not really, but it sure seems like it in this newest release in the Victorian Barker and Llewelyn series. The enigmatic Barker and the intrepid Llewelyn definitely have their work cut out for them in trying to untangle the web of intrigue and assassination aimed at Russia’s royal family – or is it England’s royal family in the crosshairs? Oh! You’ll not be able to put this one down until the very end, and then you’ll sigh with contentment -- and then frustration because it is all over and you have to wait for the next one. In the middle of 1893, England is abuzz with news and plans for the upcoming wedding of Queen Victoria’s son George to Princess Mary. Part of that buzz is happy anticipation for England’s royal family and the continuing alliances being made by royal marriages. Another part of that buzz is from citizens, anarchists, and socialists who vociferously protest the massive amount of spending being done for the wedding. In their view, that money could be much better spent on helping the poor, feeding the hungry, etc. As Barker and Llewelyn sat at their desks, they could hear a lovely, rich, baritone voice in their reception area. As Mr. Llewelyn writes in his notes – He was American, our visitor; no one irons a sentence like an American. He was indeed an American – from Alabama, but that had nothing to do with why he was there. Jim Hercules is a former boxer who is now working in the household of the Tsar of Russia. Jim’s role is more a ceremonial one, but he has befriended the Tsar’s son and heir – Nikolai Alexandrovich. Since he’s sure Nikolai is about to be murdered, he’s come to Barber and Llewelyn to investigate and save Nikolai’s life. While Barker doesn’t immediately accept the case, he does decide to feel things out. Things are very tense in London at the moment and there are a great many anarchists present who have been persecuted in Russia – they are spoiling to start something – and many of them think assassination would be just the thing to start the revolution that would bring Russia down. As Barker and Llewelyn are passing the palace, they manage to thwart an attempted assassination that almost takes the life of Prince George. Was he really the target? Prince George and Nikolai look very much alike. It will take all of Barker’s cunning and Llewelyn’s perseverance to keep Nikolai alive. Can they manage it? Nikolai is a spoiled, brattish, immature, child-man who has absolutely no concept of danger. Nikolai throws more wrenches in the works than you can keep up with – he has even brought his mistress along to even further put a wrench in the works. Who is the assassin called La Sylphide? When you learn, your jaw will drop because, if you’ve read other books in the series, you have met them before. There are twists and turns and things you just won’t see coming before all is solved. Or is it? I thoroughly enjoyed this story and can highly recommend it. At the end, there is a twist we didn’t see coming and I’m pretty sure it will rear its head again in a future book or two. I didn’t care for Rebecca’s reaction to that twist that came at the end. After all, every bit of that came before she and Thomas were an item. It didn’t detract from the story, and I highly recommend you giving it a try. This is one I’ll definitely read again. I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    Dance With Death is the 12th book in the phenomenal Barker & Llewellyn series by Will Thomas. If you haven't read the previous installments, jump in anyway - I started on book 11. Though references are made to past cases and events, this mystery stands alone. I will warn you, though...you WILL want to go back and see all you missed! I went back and listened to all the audiobooks after I read book 11. (Narrator Antony Ferguson totally brings these characters to life.) In June of 1893, Tsesarevich Dance With Death is the 12th book in the phenomenal Barker & Llewellyn series by Will Thomas. If you haven't read the previous installments, jump in anyway - I started on book 11. Though references are made to past cases and events, this mystery stands alone. I will warn you, though...you WILL want to go back and see all you missed! I went back and listened to all the audiobooks after I read book 11. (Narrator Antony Ferguson totally brings these characters to life.) In June of 1893, Tsesarevich Nicholas (the future Nicholas II of Russia) is in London to attend a royal wedding. He brings private security - and his ballerina mistress - with him. Though he has much protection, Nicholas's friend Jim Hercules (who is also one of the Tsesarevich's "Ethiopian" guards) hires private enquiry agents Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewellyn for additional security. When an assassin mistakes Prince George of England for Nicholas, Barker and Llewellyn begin the hunt for the killer, who is believed to be a professional assassin known only as "La Sylphide". The enquiry agents follow clues from the London slums to Kensington Palace, and they discover Llewelyn's old nemesis, the assassin Sofia Ilyanova, may be involved. Can they catch the assassin before the assassin catches up with Nicholas? This book is one of my favorites of the series, and that's saying a lot! I have fallen in love with Barker and Llewellyn and all the other characters, including factotum Mac, secretary Jenkins, Rebecca Llewellyn, Mrs. Ashley, Ho and Harm the dog. The story is narrated by Thomas Llewellyn, my favorite of the lot; he's a smart aleck after my own heart. He and Barker are now full partners, and he's also navigating his still fairly new marriage to Rebecca. I adore the relationship between big, gruff and still mysterious Barker and scholarly and smartass Llewellyn. I was really excited about this storyline as I am related to Nicholas II. He is portrayed here as a brash and immature young man. Other real-life characters make an appearance, most notably Eleanor Marx (daughter of Karl Marx) and socialist activist William Morris. Socialists, communists and anarchists all play a bit part in the story. My favorite parts, however, dealt with the relationship between Llewellyn and Sofia Ilyanova. I love books that make me think, laugh AND cry. Here's to many more adventures with the Barker & Llewellyn Agency! I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley. I received no compensation for my review, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely my own.

  10. 4 out of 5

    J.R. Stefanie

    Will Thomas' 'Dance with Death' is the twelfth novel in the Bajer and LLewelyn series of historical mysteries. The protagonists are one Cyrus Barker, a Scottish enquiry agent, and his (now) partner Thomas Llewelyn. Set in London in 1893, the story revolves around the attempted assassination of Tsesarevich Nicholas of Russia. The future Nicholas II arrives for a royal wedding, is ensconced in Kensington Palace with Prince George of England, the bridegroom to be, and a passel of security personnel Will Thomas' 'Dance with Death' is the twelfth novel in the Bajer and LLewelyn series of historical mysteries. The protagonists are one Cyrus Barker, a Scottish enquiry agent, and his (now) partner Thomas Llewelyn. Set in London in 1893, the story revolves around the attempted assassination of Tsesarevich Nicholas of Russia. The future Nicholas II arrives for a royal wedding, is ensconced in Kensington Palace with Prince George of England, the bridegroom to be, and a passel of security personnel from not only the professional forces of England and Russia, but the agency of Barker and Llewelyn. The two private enquiry agents were first contacted by one if Nicholas' private guards, Jim Hercules, who rejected Hercules' request that they provide additional security. All of these measures prove inadequate when Prince George of England is attacked by an armed anarchist who mistakes him for Nicholas. As a result, Barker and Llewelyn are brought in to help track down the assassin and others who might conspire against the life of the tsesarevich. Barker and Llewelyn must solve the case of their life before the crime of the century is committed. As admirable a work 'Dance with Death' is in weaving together historical characters into a somewhat compelling fictional historical mystery, at times I felt that I was slogging through treacle. The overwhelming amount of detail, including descriptions of journeys through London streets and locations along with the wide swath of historical minutiae served more as a burden than enlightenment. The character descriptions were drawn with a one-dimension pen; Barker, Llewelyn are more finely fleshed out but characters such as Israel and Rebecca could have been fluffed out a bit more. Sacrificing a litany of street names for more character definition would have been much appreciated! Whilst I believe that detail in setting place and time is important, but not smothering the pace of the story-telling. Finally, and probably the most irritating of all, is the anachronistic terms, expressions, and, in some cases products and places that pop up at various points in the book. The A.B.C. teas hops are referred to as the ABC tea shops, which does not point to the fact the shops were the offspring of the Aerated Bread Company by using the abbreviation of the company's name. When a character is enjoying an ale called Old Spotted Hen, we're put in mind of Old Speckled Hen which first saw the light of day eighty-six years later. Did I enjoy the book? In the most part, yes. Did I have problems with anachronistic speech? Definitely. Did the story move apace? There were moments when the horse was allowed to gallop, but all in all we cantered through the story. Would I give Baerker & Llewelyn another go? Yes, but I would select carefully from the prior eleven offerings and hope to find a novel with less historical minor details.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Angie Boyter

    A strong 4+ Victorian England was an interesting era, and Will Thomas certainly knows how to capitalize on that to bring readers a historical mystery series in which the setting and situation are as interesting as the actual mystery. This book centers around a fictional attempt to kill Tsarevich (aka crown prince ) Nicholas of Russia during a real visit to London to attend the wedding of Queen Victoria’s second son, George, to Princess Mary of Teck. The private enquiry firm (Do NOT call them “pri A strong 4+ Victorian England was an interesting era, and Will Thomas certainly knows how to capitalize on that to bring readers a historical mystery series in which the setting and situation are as interesting as the actual mystery. This book centers around a fictional attempt to kill Tsarevich (aka crown prince ) Nicholas of Russia during a real visit to London to attend the wedding of Queen Victoria’s second son, George, to Princess Mary of Teck. The private enquiry firm (Do NOT call them “private detectives”.) of Barker and Llewelyn are approached by Jim Hercules, a black American man who is part of Nicholas’ security team, because he fears such an attempt will take place and wants to hire Barker and Llewelyn to prevent it. There is no dearth of motives or suspects. Young Thomas Llewelyn narrates the series, punctuating his narration with occasional wry comments. For example, when Llewelyn, who is Welsh, is forced to accompany Barker and Russian Ambassador de Staal on a lengthy tour of Barker’s prized garden, the bored Welshman tells the reader, “I don’t like tea, and I don’t like gardens. I’d have made a poor Englishman.” Having a sense of humor is no doubt a very helpful defense mechanism, because Barker is a prickly stubborn character and not the easiest senior partner to deal with. He is extremely adept at his job, however, perhaps at a level that mildly strains credulity, but this reader was captured enough to suspend my disbelief when necessary. The story moves at a good pace, fast enough to keep up interest in the central mystery but just slow enough to allow for many interesting details of the era. One of the charms of this book was the number of real historical persons in it. Of course, figures like Nicholas were real. There are other lesser-known people, though, like Karl Marx’s daughter Eleanor. It was fun to see them as people and not just as names in a history book, e.g., to see the future Tsar Nicholas as an impetuous young man. I had not realized until I read this book that Llewelyn’s friend Israel Zangwill, who has played a cameo role since the beginning of the series, was a real novelist and the author of one of the first locked room mysteries, The Big Bow Mystery. Will Thomas tries to get details as accurate as possible, and he provides a nice Afterword giving more information on some of these real people. Some of it was surprising (but I will not spoil things by revealing them now!). Speaking of spoilers, you can enjoy this book even if you have not read others in the series, but there are some spoilers, so I would recommend starting at the beginning. If you have read one, you will want to read them all! I received an Advance Review Copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jani Brooks

    Historical Mystery London - 1893 The private enquiry firm of Barker and Llewelyn (they prefer not to be called detectives), has been approached by a rather unique client with a very unique offer. Jim Hercules has asked the men to take on the protection of the tsarevich of Russia, Nicholas. Hercules is a ceremonial guard, a former boxer from the United States, and a black man pretending to be an Ethiopian guard. Complicated? Yes. And both Barker and Llewelyn are confused as to why Hercules is seeki Historical Mystery London - 1893 The private enquiry firm of Barker and Llewelyn (they prefer not to be called detectives), has been approached by a rather unique client with a very unique offer. Jim Hercules has asked the men to take on the protection of the tsarevich of Russia, Nicholas. Hercules is a ceremonial guard, a former boxer from the United States, and a black man pretending to be an Ethiopian guard. Complicated? Yes. And both Barker and Llewelyn are confused as to why Hercules is seeking them out instead of the Russian contingent who usually guard Nicholas? That seems to be the main reason Hercules is there, because he doesn't trust the Tsar's men, or the Russian royal family who evidently don't think Nicholas should be the next ruler. What happens next proves to Barker and Llewelyn that someone, indeed, is gunning for the tsarevich when an assassin mistakes England's Prince for the tsarevich. Luckily, he misses, but is then killed by another assassin before anyone can question him. Barker and Llewelyn witness the incident, and Llewelyn is the one who grabs the tsarevich, who came outside the palace to see what was going on, and hustles him inside. It seems there are any number of people who fall into the category of suspects! It's up to the firm to narrow down just who has the most to win by the death of Nicholas. There are anarchists in London from every part of the globe, but the Russian ones who fled their homeland when the tsar's Cossacks attacked them seem to be prime suspects. Or there is Nicholas' ballerina mistress who has made several threats to make sure she is the only one he should marry. But then, Nicholas has a few relatives hanging around who could have a grudge. And there are rumors of the mysterious assassin, La Sylphide, has been hired to remove the tsarevich. The firm has its hands full narrowing things down. Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn have worked together for ten years. Barker, enigmatic and brilliant, started the business, taking in Thomas as a partner. Thomas is married, trustworthy, and devoted to his wife and his partner. But this new job has them both baffled as more and more clues rise to the surface. The men find danger at every turn, but are determined to keep Nicholas safe. Book thirteen of the Barker & Llewelyn series, DANCE WITH DEATH is a non-stop thriller. The story is told through the eyes of Thomas Llewelyn, and his observations are both serious and, at times, humorous. All in all, this is an excellent mystery and the ending is a surprise.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Reppy

    "Dance with Death” was an enjoyable work of historical fiction. Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn, two of the premier private enquiry agents in London, have been approached by Jim Hercules, the personal bodyguard of Nicholas II, the tsarevich of Russia, who is in London for the marriage of his cousin, George. Hercules is concerned that an assassin is planning to kill Nicholas. Making the situation more complicated is that Nicholas is rather self-absorbed and more interested in having fun than tak "Dance with Death” was an enjoyable work of historical fiction. Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn, two of the premier private enquiry agents in London, have been approached by Jim Hercules, the personal bodyguard of Nicholas II, the tsarevich of Russia, who is in London for the marriage of his cousin, George. Hercules is concerned that an assassin is planning to kill Nicholas. Making the situation more complicated is that Nicholas is rather self-absorbed and more interested in having fun than taking his duties as a royal and heir to the Russian throne seriously. He also has a complicated personal life, as Queen Victoria is working to arrange a marriage between him and Princess Alix of Hesse, whom he has known since childhood and does love, but Nicholas has a mistress of sorts in Mathilde Kschessinska, a ballerina whose beauty is matched by her fiery temper. One of my favorite characters is Jim Hercules, in part because, quite improbably, he is a real person. The various royals are obviously real people and it is not surprising that Mathilde turned out to be a real person. However, I would never have guessed that Jim Hercules, a black man born on a Caribbean island, raised in America, with a career as a boxer, and fluent in multiple languages, including Russian, would end up as a personal bodyguard for the heir to the Russian throne. Hercules just goes to show that sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction. Barker and Llewelyn have a Holmes-Watson vibe and make a good team. The book is set in the 1890s, at a time when socialists, communists, and anarchists are a growing and concerning presence in England and elsewhere, and the author utilizes members of these groups, including quite prominent individuals such as Eleanor Marx, the daughter of Karl Marx, as potential suspects for the assassin or the assassin’s paymaster/mistress. The choice of a female assassin adds to the uniqueness of the story. The identity of the assassin is known by the middle of the story, but who hired her and how she plans to fulfill her mission remain secrets. The assassin also has connections to Barker and Llewelyn, especially Llewelyn, and that leads to one of the best surprises in the book. The method that Barker utilizes to thwart the main assassination attempt is quite clever. I would definitely recommend this book and I will likely investigate other books in the series. I received a copy of the e-book via NetGalley in exchange for a review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Poptart19 (ren)

    3 stars A charming young enquiry agent recounts his adventures with his gruff business partner on a case to defend the tsarevich, the future Nicholas II, from assassination during a visit to Victorian Era London. The plot is a bit slow, but both MC’s are endearing & interesting characters. [What I liked:] •The 1st person narrator has a charming, rather snarky voice. It’s a very laid back style of storytelling, which actually reminds me of those Nate The Great books (I mean the tone is similar, not 3 stars A charming young enquiry agent recounts his adventures with his gruff business partner on a case to defend the tsarevich, the future Nicholas II, from assassination during a visit to Victorian Era London. The plot is a bit slow, but both MC’s are endearing & interesting characters. [What I liked:] •The 1st person narrator has a charming, rather snarky voice. It’s a very laid back style of storytelling, which actually reminds me of those Nate The Great books (I mean the tone is similar, not that it’s childish). Anyway, the style is very conversational, which makes the story feel a bit slow (maybe lazy or meandering would be better descriptions), but that’s a stylistic choice rather than a flaw imo. •There are some great historical details worked into the story, including real events, historical figures, famous places, institutions, etc. Well researched & well constructed. •There is a character named Inspector Plankton. I just really like that name! [What I didn’t like as much:] •My fault because I jumped in mid-series with this book, but I was quite lost at several points. How was it at all logical for the Templars to hire an assassin? Why is Munro okay with Barker but not Thomas? Why do they all live together? •Perhaps a petty quibble, but it’s inaccurate that the MC expresses surprise that a ballet dancer is “curvaceous”. A full figure was not unusual for ballet dancers in the 19th C; the slim, long-limbed body type preferred for ballet dancers today came into vogue in the mid-20th C. Dance history is important to me 😬 (Also, did he really need to casually comment on her weight like that?) •I really don’t like Rebecca. She’s annoying, jealous, petty, suspicious, controlling, & I’ve no clue why Thomas likes her. I also really dislike all Thomas’ comments about how he’ll never understand women, & how incomprehensible they are. It’s almost like Rebecca’s character is written to fit that “difficult, contrary, nonsensical women” sexist stereotype. •The whole plot point at the end with the child & Rebecca leaving seemed over the top, unnecessary, & very unclear in the motivations of the people involved. I don’t think it belonged in the story, it felt sort of slapped on at the end. CW: mistreatment of a mentally ill patient, murder, physical assault [I received an ARC ebook copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Thank you for the book!]

  15. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    I thoroughly enjoyed this Victorian mystery set in 1893, when the young future Nicholas II comes to London for a wedding and Barker and Llewelyn are hired to protect him from assassination. This is the 12th in the series, and I jumped in about half way (somewhere around #7, I believe). I've enjoyed them ever since. For those who have not yet met Barker and Llewelyn, they are neither Scotland Yard inspectors nor policemen. They are "private enquiry agents," and readers who enjoy Sherlock Holmes s I thoroughly enjoyed this Victorian mystery set in 1893, when the young future Nicholas II comes to London for a wedding and Barker and Llewelyn are hired to protect him from assassination. This is the 12th in the series, and I jumped in about half way (somewhere around #7, I believe). I've enjoyed them ever since. For those who have not yet met Barker and Llewelyn, they are neither Scotland Yard inspectors nor policemen. They are "private enquiry agents," and readers who enjoy Sherlock Holmes stories will find much to appreciate here in the banter and difference between these two protagonists. As with the Holmes stories, these are narrated by the "sidekick" ... thank goodness because Llewelyn is very likable and funny--a nice offset to the crimes and mayhem; Barker is rather imposing and fierce. Two of my favorite aspects of these books are first, the humor. It is not ha-ha, elbow in the sides humor. It's subtle--a small wry wink and a nudge to the reader. For example, when Llewelyn and Barker are introduced as "Lewis and Baker," he shrugs it off: "We'd been called worse." There are dozens of these ... I wouldn't even call them one-liners, as sometimes they're merely half a line. But they keep me smiling as I read and give me a sense of connection to and sympathy with Llewelyn. The other aspect I love is that I feel deeply steeped in Victorian London throughout the book. The author has been writing about Victorian London for years now, and he's familiar enough with the sights and sounds that they appear organically; he doesn't shoehorn them in. The historical figures William Morris and Israel Zangwell appear, and for those readers who know who they are, it's fun to find and recognize them. Beyond that, the very metaphors he uses are drawn very specifically from that English world. Describing trying to find a messenger boy to deliver a note: "The boy slipped by like a salmon on the River Spey." Describing what it was like to be close to a man who was shot: "It was like one of them butchers in Leadenhall market threw a bucket of blood all over us." It's like being immersed in a pot of proper English tea ... or perhaps the Thames! Despite that last example, these books are not gritty. The violence is largely off the page, and I wouldn't feel uncomfortable recommending these books to my teenage son. I'd recommend to fans of Charles Finch, Alex Grecian (THE YARD, etc.), and Abir Mukherjee (A RISING MAN, etc.).

  16. 4 out of 5

    Marie Parsons

    Dance with Death is the 13th title in the "Barker and Llewelyn" historical mystery series by Will Thomas. The setting is London, during the reign of Queen Victoria. Barker and Llewelyn are "private enquiry" agents. They are both observant, have a net of contacts through the East End and the alleys and byways, and are sometimes ill-thought of by individual inspectors of Scotland Yard. The story unfolds through the intimate first-person eyes, mind, heart and memory of the young Welshman Thomas Lle Dance with Death is the 13th title in the "Barker and Llewelyn" historical mystery series by Will Thomas. The setting is London, during the reign of Queen Victoria. Barker and Llewelyn are "private enquiry" agents. They are both observant, have a net of contacts through the East End and the alleys and byways, and are sometimes ill-thought of by individual inspectors of Scotland Yard. The story unfolds through the intimate first-person eyes, mind, heart and memory of the young Welshman Thomas Llewelyn. He and the older Scotsman Barker have become drawn into helping protect the youthful Russian prince Nicolas, who one day may become Tsar (after marrying Alix of Hesse, granddaughter to Queen Victoria. The cast of characters is rich and engaging: including the Russian prima ballerina who is also the volatile mistress of Nicolas, the English baroness romantically involved with Barker, Llewelyn's Jewish wife Rebecca (whose family disapproves of her marriage), Jim Hercules, an "American Negro" from Tuscaloosa Alabama, who is a close bodyguard for Nicolas (and as such is referred to as an "Ethiop". Suspects include British Socialists, Communists, Anarchists, the Russian Okhrana, Nicolas' aristocratic uncles. As Barker and Llewelyn investigate, they learn about political factions-Socialists vs Aristocrats, Anarchists vs Strong government- royal protocols, dynastic marriages, the state of things in Russia. They must also navigate reconciling personal honor with personal ambition, (eg the heroes are offered Queen's medals-for simply doing what they consider their job; keeping their word eg to protect Nicolas, when the British Home Office attempts to dissuade their course. The author skillfully immerses the reader in Victorian society and mores (eg a woman cannot say the word "petticoat" to a man, cannot enter into a "pub", the poor and downtrodden move about under the shadow of Whitehall and Buckingham Palace). Every character is given his or her distinctive voice and appearance, even if appearing for one or two lines. Readers need not have read any of the previous novels, but may well find they desire to read all previous novels and see how this partnership began. This reviewer plans to do just that. Highly recommended.

  17. 4 out of 5

    BOOKLOVER EB

    In 1893, private enquiry agent Cyrus Barker and his partner, Thomas Llewelyn, are hired to protect a visiting dignitary, the future tsar, Nicholas Romanov. The heir apparent is in England with his entourage to attend the wedding of Prince George, Duke of York, and Princess Mary of Teck. Nicholas, who is young, arrogant, and careless, would make an easy target for a skilled assassin. As it turns out, the quick-thinking and courageous Cyrus and Thomas are on the scene when an attempt is made on Ni In 1893, private enquiry agent Cyrus Barker and his partner, Thomas Llewelyn, are hired to protect a visiting dignitary, the future tsar, Nicholas Romanov. The heir apparent is in England with his entourage to attend the wedding of Prince George, Duke of York, and Princess Mary of Teck. Nicholas, who is young, arrogant, and careless, would make an easy target for a skilled assassin. As it turns out, the quick-thinking and courageous Cyrus and Thomas are on the scene when an attempt is made on Nicholas's life. Thereafter, Barker and Llewelyn have their hands full trying to safeguard a spoiled young man who lacks common sense and self-discipline. "Dance with Death," by Will Thomas, has some basis in fact and, in the back of the book, the author fills us in on the fate of the people who make an appearance in the novel. The plot centers on an attempt to find out who is targeting Nicholas and why. Along the way, we encounter Eleanor Marx, the daughter of Karl, who is carrying on her father's work in promoting the Communist cause; William Morris, a famous painter, poet, and Socialist; Russian anarchists who loathe monarchs and all that they represent; and members of the Okhrana, the secret police of the Russian tzars. It is delightful to observe the inimitable Cyrus Barker in action. In spite of all the violent altercations that he has endured, Barker, who has mentored Thomas for almost ten years, remains mentally sharp and physically strong. Llewelyn, who has finally married his beloved Rebecca, is intent on keeping her happy, but there are areas of friction that may prove troublesome for the couple. Although "Dance with Death" is not the most entertaining installment in the Barker/Llewelyn series, it has scenes of lively humor and offers an interesting perspective on the political, social, and economic conditions in Europe during the late nineteenth century. It is weakened, however, by its sluggish pace, long-winded dialogue, and an overly large cast of thinly-drawn characters. Still, fans who have grown fond of Barker and Llewelyn will be eager to see how they handle this sensitive and dangerous investigation.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Dance With Death by Will Thomas is a Barker and Llewelyn mystery. Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn are enquiry agents in London; Barker is the more senior in the firm and the story takes place in 1893. Both had led interesting lives before arriving at this place and time. Llewelyn and his wife live in the same home as Barker, although separately and Thomas carries the wallet when the two are out and about. They get a mysterious visitor in their chambers (office), a American Negro working as a bo Dance With Death by Will Thomas is a Barker and Llewelyn mystery. Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn are enquiry agents in London; Barker is the more senior in the firm and the story takes place in 1893. Both had led interesting lives before arriving at this place and time. Llewelyn and his wife live in the same home as Barker, although separately and Thomas carries the wallet when the two are out and about. They get a mysterious visitor in their chambers (office), a American Negro working as a bodyguard for the tsarevich Nicholas, who is in London for the wedding of Prince George, Duke of York, and Mary, Princess of Teck. Nicholas is immature and careless, not mindful of his own safety. Jim Hercules feels he needs assistance, as the people assigned to the tsarevich are not to be trusted. Everyone gets involved here, Scotland Yard, the Home Office, the Russians, the Anarchists, even Karl Marx' daughter. There are surprises at every turn, for everyone. Thomas has been writing these books for years; this is the 12th in the series. They are formal, in many ways reminiscent of Anne Perry. Barker is a brilliant and clever investigator who does things his own way, despite what others think. He has little respect for authority but they appear to have great respect for him. Thomas is maturing into a competent sidekick, husband, and investigator on this own. The mystery is a good one and the solution a clever one, Barker's idea of course. There is much history revealed in this book about the way general society in England felt at the time and Socialists and Anarchists and such. It was also interesting to read about the number of exiled Russians about and why they had left Russia to begin with. The royalty of Europe was all inbred and cousins to one another, as was exemplified by the guest list for the wedding. All-in-all it was at terrific historical mystery; one which should be read. I was invited to read a free ARC of Dance With Death by Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are mine. #netgalley #dancewithdeath

  19. 4 out of 5

    Vicky

    Thoughts: I haven’t read any of the other books in this series, but I will be looking for them. The story takes place in 1893 London and reminds me—vaguely—of a Sherlock Holmesian type story with two detectives (enquirers). Llewelyn is Watson to Barker’s Sherlock with Llewelyn being the note taker and Barker the enigmatic genius. Though this is not the first book in the series, it is not hard to get to know all the characters and where they fit in the story/series. Though a fictional story, the Thoughts: I haven’t read any of the other books in this series, but I will be looking for them. The story takes place in 1893 London and reminds me—vaguely—of a Sherlock Holmesian type story with two detectives (enquirers). Llewelyn is Watson to Barker’s Sherlock with Llewelyn being the note taker and Barker the enigmatic genius. Though this is not the first book in the series, it is not hard to get to know all the characters and where they fit in the story/series. Though a fictional story, the historical facts about Nicholas were mostly correct. He was related to a lot of European royalty; he did travel to London in this time period; he did marry Alexandra; there was a lot of unrest concerning the Russians, anarchists, socialists, communists, etc. I will note that I found the story slow, and yet I couldn’t put it down because it was fascinating at the same time. What I liked: the characters of Llewelyn and Barker are fascinating, especially Llewelyn—who is telling the story. The supporting characters are well-done and interesting—especially Hercules, a Black man guarding Nicholas who is forced to wear bizarre clothing ala “genie”. It is noted at the end of the book that this character is actually based on a real person. What I didn’t like: This was an ARC so I expected some minor editorial gaffs, but there were more than a few which put me off. I assume they’ll be corrected in the final proofread. Also, as noted above, the story was a bit slow to read, but at the same time, I couldn’t put it down. Recommendation: If you’re looking for a decent historical mystery in the style of Sherlock, I’d definitely pick this one up. Or even start at the beginning of the series so you don’t miss anything and go from there. I received this from NetGalley and St. Martin's Press and thank them for allowing me to read this advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jean Kolinofsky

    With royalty descending on London for the marriage of Prince George, Barker and Llewelyn, private enquiry agents, are approached by a guard for the young tsarevich Nicholas to protect him from assassination. Nicholas is a young man who is impulsive and unprepared for his future as the tsar and someone has hired La Sylphide to remove him from the line of succession. One of the Queen’s objectives during his visit is to arrange a suitable marriage to Alexandra, but he shows little interest in Alix. With royalty descending on London for the marriage of Prince George, Barker and Llewelyn, private enquiry agents, are approached by a guard for the young tsarevich Nicholas to protect him from assassination. Nicholas is a young man who is impulsive and unprepared for his future as the tsar and someone has hired La Sylphide to remove him from the line of succession. One of the Queen’s objectives during his visit is to arrange a suitable marriage to Alexandra, but he shows little interest in Alix. He has arranged for his mistress to come to London and she has threatened his life if he accepts the arrangement. There are also the Socialists and former Russian citizens driven from Russia by the pogroms who pose a threat to Nicholas. Passing by Kensington Palace, Llewelyn thwarts an attempt on Prince George’s life. When Nicholas appears on the scene, Barker and the palace guards see him to safety. These acts serve as an introduction to Nicholas and give Barker and Llewelyn further access to The tsarevich and Kensington. With the wedding only days away they must move quickly to discover the assassin’s identity and keep Nicholas safe. Will Thomas’ Dance With Death involves an intriguing cast of characters. Young Nicholas has little guidance and even though he leaves London unscathed his tragic ending is well known. His guard, Jim Hercules, was originally from Tortola and raised in Alabama. He has become a friend to the tsarevich, but who is he really working for? Finally, La Sylphide is an assassin and the daughter of a former nemesis who has a connection to Llewelyn. Thomas ends with a chase through London that ends with a devastating twist and will have readers counting the days until Barker and Llewelyn return. I would like to thank NetGalley and St. Martin Press for providing this book for my review.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cathy Cole

    I am a longtime fan of Will Thomas's Barker & Llewelyn historical mystery series set in Victorian London. These books are a marvelous blend of history, characterization, action, and humor. Thomas always does his homework when dealing with historical figures, and Dance With Death has a few. For those readers who don't like real people in their fiction, I'd just like to say that the author uses these historical figures as a framework for his story. They are not main characters, and that's a good t I am a longtime fan of Will Thomas's Barker & Llewelyn historical mystery series set in Victorian London. These books are a marvelous blend of history, characterization, action, and humor. Thomas always does his homework when dealing with historical figures, and Dance With Death has a few. For those readers who don't like real people in their fiction, I'd just like to say that the author uses these historical figures as a framework for his story. They are not main characters, and that's a good thing because he already has a marvelous cast of fictional ones. As always, the story is told by twenty-eight-year-old Thomas Llewelyn, and I love his narration. Through the course of the series, readers have seen this young man grow and learn, and thankfully the years have honed his fine sense of humor and quick tongue. Barker is the strong, silent type, more like a Victorian James Bond than anything else, although he does play a good straight man to Thomas. As the two investigate further, two secondary characters are brought in: female detective (and typist) Sarah Fletcher, and habitue of the British Museum's reading room, Liam Grant. They have appeared in previous books, and I was glad to see them in Dance With Death. I hope Will Thomas continues to bring them both into future books because I love watching their stories unfold. The mystery is a good one, and Thomas's setting of Victorian London is hard to beat. I always learn something about that city when I read one of these books. If you like historical mysteries set in London, you really can't go wrong with a Barker & Llewelyn novel. You can read Dance With Death as a standalone, but I've enjoyed the unfolding of Thomas's story so much that I hope you'll think about starting at the beginning with Some Danger Involved. This is a consistently high-quality series that shouldn't be missed.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    Such fun to read this delectably twisty turny book which exudes atmosphere and mystery! This year was my first introduction to this author so I was thrilled to see the next installment in the series featuring private enquiry agents, Scottish Cyrus Barker (Guv) and Welsh Thomas Llewelyn. Chock full of wit and clever witticisms, my attention was captured and held throughout as the agents inveigled and searched for answers with the help of female agent Sarah Fletcher. Thomas' wife is a force, too. Such fun to read this delectably twisty turny book which exudes atmosphere and mystery! This year was my first introduction to this author so I was thrilled to see the next installment in the series featuring private enquiry agents, Scottish Cyrus Barker (Guv) and Welsh Thomas Llewelyn. Chock full of wit and clever witticisms, my attention was captured and held throughout as the agents inveigled and searched for answers with the help of female agent Sarah Fletcher. Thomas' wife is a force, too. Her character is delightful. The story is set in 1893 London and very believable with that era's mannerisms, societal classes, vernacular and historical details including introductions of contemporaries of the time such as Israel Zangwill with a focus on British monarchy, Kensington Palace, Prince George and Russian tsesarevich. The agents track an assassin and are close to being killed themselves in the process. Add intrigue, murder, a bit of romance and surprises and voila...Dance with Death! I adore unexpected endings and this one leaves me wanting more. The agents loosely remind me of Nero Wolfe and Archie in Rex Stout books with their tremendous understanding of one another and banter. As Thomas thinks in this book, the amount of information his partner knows is staggering, as is the information he doesn't know. So, he and Guv complement each other beautifully. If you are into Historical Fiction and Mysteries, do add this author to your To Read list. The books are a refreshing treat. Do pay particular attention to the Afterword which is fascinating! My sincere thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this enthralling book in exchange for an honest review. Much appreciated.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    Dance with Death, the 12th installment of the Barker and Llewellyn series by Will Thomas was my first foray into this series. I honestly have mixed feelings about this book, it's obvious that by the 12th book there has been an extensive history and building of the storyline and characters. I never felt lost, and I knew I would be missing some of that history by starting with this book. I agree that having a flawed character can make the story more relatable. However, one character was just odd t Dance with Death, the 12th installment of the Barker and Llewellyn series by Will Thomas was my first foray into this series. I honestly have mixed feelings about this book, it's obvious that by the 12th book there has been an extensive history and building of the storyline and characters. I never felt lost, and I knew I would be missing some of that history by starting with this book. I agree that having a flawed character can make the story more relatable. However, one character was just odd to me. There were times he seemed to have it all together, other times his actions showed his ignorance, putting himself and others in jeopardy. There were also things in the book that Mr. Thomas describes that gave me mixed feelings. The assassin uses an air gun as a weapon of choice, which is brilliant, the air guns that were developed in the 1700s and on into the 1800s were used for hunting, war, and other purposes. At the time this story was set, 1893, there were nearly 4,000 air gun clubs competing across Great Britain. However, in other scenes, he describes the wheels of the Handsome cabs skidding on the cobblestones, and has a stage performance during the parade for the Royal Wedding and the theater is on the parade route. It could just be me, but these seem like odd items that mess with the continuity of the story. These things aside, the over all story line is good. Barker and Llewellyn are asked to find out who is trying to assassinate Nicholas, the next Tsar of Russia. (Yes, that Nicholas) Several of the people in the story were real people and there is more information on them in the author's notes. I want to thank #NetGalley for the opportunity to read #DancesWithDeath and give my honest opinion.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    Originally posted on my blog: Nonstop Reader. Dance with Death is the 12th Barker & Llewelyn Victorian historical mystery by Will Thomas. Released 13th April 2021 by Macmillan on their Minotaur imprint, it's 320 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. This is a well established series and th Originally posted on my blog: Nonstop Reader. Dance with Death is the 12th Barker & Llewelyn Victorian historical mystery by Will Thomas. Released 13th April 2021 by Macmillan on their Minotaur imprint, it's 320 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. This is a well established series and the characters are quite finely drawn in a well written whole. The background research is impressive and the descriptions really do call up Victorian London. The story is fictionalized but written around a real historical framework and intertwined so skillfully that it's not always easy to tell where real history shades over into fiction. The denouement and resolution are well done and satisfying. My only quibble (and it's a fairly minor one) is that the dialogue feels anachronistic in some places. It isn't clunky or awkward, but there is some modern vernacular. The books are self contained stand-alones, so it's not necessary to have read the books in order to understand what's going on. High quality historical mystery. Four stars. Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    June 1893. Private enquiry agents Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewellyn are hired to help protect the young Russian Tsarevitch, the future Peter III, who has traveled to London to attend a royal wedding. With him are his private security force, English security agents, and his mistress, the tempestuous ballerina Mathilde Kchessinska. When rumors that Peter has been targeted by the infamous assassin La Sylphide prove to be true, Barker and Llewellyn find themselves in the middle of an investigation t June 1893. Private enquiry agents Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewellyn are hired to help protect the young Russian Tsarevitch, the future Peter III, who has traveled to London to attend a royal wedding. With him are his private security force, English security agents, and his mistress, the tempestuous ballerina Mathilde Kchessinska. When rumors that Peter has been targeted by the infamous assassin La Sylphide prove to be true, Barker and Llewellyn find themselves in the middle of an investigation that could lead to multiple international incidents, royal assassinations, and their own deaths if they make the wrong move. With old enemies coming back to haunt them and old secrets coming to light, the stakes for Barker and Llewellyn have never been higher. Granted, by the time the twelfth book of any series comes around, it is a guarantee that the stakes have never been higher. After all, if a pair of detectives (ahem, private enquiry agents) never moves beyond investigating the random murder on a street corner, then how is the reader to know that their detecting skills have improved? So the stakes are increased and the social circles the detectives deal with are raised to the highest levels. Barker and Llewellyn have come a long way from their first case together, and while their influence and fame (or perhaps infamy) have increased exponentially, the basic factors that have come with them from book one to book twelve, Dance With Death, have remained the same: Cyrus Barker is a stoic cipher of a man with one foot in the past, a prodigious knowledge of the world, and a profound understanding of humanity, while Thomas Llewellyn is a wise-cracking young man with a finger on the pulse of all that is new in his Victorian era. It’s the combination and clash of these two personalities that makes Will Thomas’s books so entertaining and so compulsively readable, whether or not the reader figures out whodunnit halfway through, or not at all. It’s a peculiar aspect of the best mystery series: the dead body in the library is the reason for the story, but it’s not what brings the reader to the book in the first place. It’s the relationships between the characters, whether they’re main characters, side characters, or incidental, that make the whole story compelling, and not necessarily the mystery itself. If a group of complex characters who feel like they’ve stepped right out of the Victorian era without picking up extraneous modern trappings is called for, then the Barker and Llewellyn books perfectly fit the bill. Whether it’s a young imperial prince from history, Thomas Llewellyn himself, or the unnamed bartender looking grouchy off to the side, Will Thomas’s characters are brimming with energy and feel so real that even the fictional characters seem like a researcher might be able to find traces of them in the historical record. But if a tightly-paced historical mystery full of intrigue and danger is what’s called for, there is plenty to be had in Dance With Death, and much of it is based on actual historical events. While sharp-eyed readers of the series’ earlier books will guess the identity of the mysterious assassin, La Sylphide, there is another culprit who hired said assassin in the first place. And thanks to the knotty political alliances that wound around the intermingled royal families of late nineteenth-century Europe, virtually any of the players who make an appearance could be the one– for love, money, or royal power. While Dance With Death is the twelfth outing for these intrepid investigators, it doesn’t mean that new readers will have no idea what’s going on. Will Thomas has a deft hand at summarizing relationships and hinting at past cases without stating whodunnit, so if reading book twelve inspires a new reader to go back to the beginning, the mysteries aren’t spoiled. And there is plenty for longtime readers to enjoy, too, with loose threads from previous installments being pulled back into the weave so seamlessly that one might wonder if Will Thomas had been planning this all along– especially after that ending. Thanks to Will Thomas’s extensive research of the late Victorian era, 1890s London comes to vivid life in a way that feels fresh and exciting, without losing the historical feeling. London has long been a place where all the world’s cultures come together in unexpected ways while retaining its own peculiar sensibilities. Whether Barker and Llewellyn are stalking the dark alleys of Whitechapel or strolling through the manicured gardens of Kensington Palace, they never feel out of place or out of time. The ancient monarchies of Europe might have been in a precipitous decline by 1893, but in Dance With Death, Barker and Llewellyn are at the top of their game.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    This series has held my interest for 15 plus years? That is amazing I think. My immediate return to the Victorian era and the evolving relationship of Barker and Llewelyn, now including Llewelyn's wife, is at once warm and familiar. As I turned the final page of this book I began to look forward with anticipation for what Mr. Thomas will deliver next year. We begin this lively episode with something new, a client by the name of Jim Hercules who serves the Russians as a sort of lifeguard over tsa This series has held my interest for 15 plus years? That is amazing I think. My immediate return to the Victorian era and the evolving relationship of Barker and Llewelyn, now including Llewelyn's wife, is at once warm and familiar. As I turned the final page of this book I began to look forward with anticipation for what Mr. Thomas will deliver next year. We begin this lively episode with something new, a client by the name of Jim Hercules who serves the Russians as a sort of lifeguard over tsarevich Nicholas, comes asking for help to protect his charge. They are in London for festivities surrounding a wedding for one of Victoria's family and there are rumors of assassination threats. The assignment they accept will be another challenging and physically demanding exercise. The novel means Barker uses to assist them in preventing assassination includes utilizing the young street children with promise of reward, providing police whistles to help them find where the threat is coming from. If you are familiar with the series you know there will be some demonstration of physical athleticism at some point, and there is a bout between Jim Hercules, former boxer, and Barker. There will be special strains on Thomas when the female assassin is identified as one who had earlier made him captive. This is a very enjoyable read and I thank Random House for this book I finally received in the mail after a long delay as a "Goodreads Giveaway"...Lucky me! Note: many real historical figures are included in this book such as Jim Hercules and Eleanor Marx.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    A Plot to Murder the Tsarevitch in Victorian London The royal wedding of Victoria’s son George to Mary of Teck has the city in turmoil. Some are fascinated by the spectacle of a royal wedding, others think the money would be better spent feeding the poor. It’s a time when Europe was ripe for revolution. Wedding guests include the Tsarevitch along with his mistress as well other Russians. The city abounds with plots either to attack the Russian heir, or perhaps George is the target. The country’s A Plot to Murder the Tsarevitch in Victorian London The royal wedding of Victoria’s son George to Mary of Teck has the city in turmoil. Some are fascinated by the spectacle of a royal wedding, others think the money would be better spent feeding the poor. It’s a time when Europe was ripe for revolution. Wedding guests include the Tsarevitch along with his mistress as well other Russians. The city abounds with plots either to attack the Russian heir, or perhaps George is the target. The country’s security forces are on the job, but Jim Hercules doesn’t think they’re sufficient. He’s a friend the Tsarevitch, and is employed by the Russian royal family, but has no official role in protecting the Tsarevitch. Jim is American, an ex-boxer and a black man. He takes it on himself to visit Barker and Llewelyn to enlist their help. Interested by the unusual situation, Barker and Llewelyn take the case and find that it’s more dangerous than it appeared on the surface with numerous would be assassins loose in the city. This is an excellent addition to the Barker and Llewelyn Victorian mystery series. As usual the pace is fast, and the characters interesting, including the several historical personages who make and appearance. The Afterward contains additional history on the real characters. I recommend reading it. Although this book is part of a series, it can be read as a standalone. If you enjoy historical mystery fiction with realistic background, this is a great book. I received this book from NetGalley for this review.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Pat

    Prior to reading this tenth installment in the series, I had only read the initial book, and had given it a three star review. The characters have developed very well, and Lleweyn has come into his own. Novels with the formula of a wealthy, charismatic or enigmatic lead, accompanied by a cast of supporting characters with their own quirks and talents can be tedious due to the adored status of the lead, and the lack of any real energy put into the other characters. Others are engaging and interes Prior to reading this tenth installment in the series, I had only read the initial book, and had given it a three star review. The characters have developed very well, and Lleweyn has come into his own. Novels with the formula of a wealthy, charismatic or enigmatic lead, accompanied by a cast of supporting characters with their own quirks and talents can be tedious due to the adored status of the lead, and the lack of any real energy put into the other characters. Others are engaging and interesting by utilizing the supporting cast to advance the plot and further develop their own relationships while acknowledging the prowess of the lead (Barker). This series falls into the latter category. The plot may have been somewhat implausible. I do wonder if the tsarevich was as irresponsible and mindless as portrayed. I also wondered about the character of Hercules, however, in an epilogue at the end of the book, he was apparently based on a real historical person. I enjoyed the banter back and forth between Barker and Llewelyn, and Llewelyn's wry sense of humor and perspective. Will now go back and read earlier books in the series. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for allowing me to read this advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Janna B

    I have enjoyed all of the Barker and Llewelyn books. Thomas Llewelyn is my favorite; although I do like Cyrus Barker as well, but he seems to perfect. I love how Thomas grows his character in each book. He is never perfect and always makes mistakes but is continually learning and growing. This book is no different. It is another great adventure for the two. “Dance with Death” is the 10th book in the series. In this book the enquiry agents are visited in their office by an American named Jim Herc I have enjoyed all of the Barker and Llewelyn books. Thomas Llewelyn is my favorite; although I do like Cyrus Barker as well, but he seems to perfect. I love how Thomas grows his character in each book. He is never perfect and always makes mistakes but is continually learning and growing. This book is no different. It is another great adventure for the two. “Dance with Death” is the 10th book in the series. In this book the enquiry agents are visited in their office by an American named Jim Hercules who works for the heir to the Russian throne, Nicholas II. Nicholas who is young, bored, and spoiled is in London to attend his cousin George’s wedding. Jim Hercules wants to hire Barker and Llewelyn to find the person that would like to assassinate the heir. The next day the action begins. There are lots of twists and turns until the assassin is located and named as well as the person who hired that person. There are some possible changes for Thomas Llewelyn in this book....some things from his past come up in this book: one thing helps him, one thing may destroy him. I am already looking forward to the next one in the series. Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read this advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Meet Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn, private enquiry agents residing in London where the novel begins in the year 1893. Follow these two interesting characters around London as they attempt to keep the high strung Tsarevich Nicholas safe as he attends a royal wedding. Please do not refer to them as detectives; remember they are private enquiry agents! The investigation into the mysterious La Sylphide, the mysterious person shadowing the Nicholas, takes the pair through all walks of Victorian l Meet Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn, private enquiry agents residing in London where the novel begins in the year 1893. Follow these two interesting characters around London as they attempt to keep the high strung Tsarevich Nicholas safe as he attends a royal wedding. Please do not refer to them as detectives; remember they are private enquiry agents! The investigation into the mysterious La Sylphide, the mysterious person shadowing the Nicholas, takes the pair through all walks of Victorian life. Walk in the Palace Gardens, ride in Hyde Park, attend a masquerade ball and step into the seamy side of night life as the men investigate the identity of the mysterious La Sylphide and what harm might befall the Tsarevich. A blend of mystery and intrigue as Barker and Llewelyn work to solve the mystery of La Sylphide. All is not what it seems when the men finally solve the mysterious person behind La Sylphide. The resolution of the mystery brings major turmoil to the life of one of the men. Read this intriguing nineteenth century historical mystery to find out who La Sylphide is and what exactly this person is after. This ARC copy was received from Minotaur Books and Netgalley. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own. #DanceWithDeath #NetGalley

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