Thursday, March 24, 2016

Book Review: A Lady in the Smoke by Karen Odden

A Lady in the Smoke
Author: Karen Odden
Publication: Alibi (March 29, 2016)

Description: Following a humiliating fourth Season in London, Lady Elizabeth Fraser is on her way back to her ancestral country estate when her train careens off the rails and bursts into flames. Though she is injured, she manages to drag herself and her unconscious mother out of the wreckage, and amid the chaos that ensues, a brilliant young railway surgeon saves her mother’s life. Elizabeth feels an immediate connection with Paul Wilcox—though society would never deem a medical man eligible for the daughter of an earl.

After Paul reveals that the train wreck was no accident, and the inspector who tried to prevent it dies under mysterious circumstances, Elizabeth undertakes a dangerous investigation of her own that leads back to her family’s buried secrets. The more she learns, the more she must risk. Not only are her dowry and her reputation at stake; Paul’s very life hangs in the balance when he is arrested for manslaughter. As the trial draws near, and Parliament prepares for a vote that will change the course of the nation, Elizabeth uncovers a conspiracy that has been years in the making. But time is running out for her to see justice done.

My Thoughts: A horrible train wreck injures Lady Elizabeth Fraser and her mother when they are on their way home from London, fleeing rumors of their lost fortune. They are treated by Railway Surgeon Paul Wilcox. Elizabeth helps him all night as he treats other injured passengers in the scullery of the inn where they were taken. She comes to admire him very much despite their very different levels of society.

Elizabeth also meets Tom Flynn who is Paul's friend and a reporter for a London newspaper. She overhears them talking about some things that she doesn't understand at first. Tom is convinced that the accident was no accident but was deliberate sabotage designed to bring down the share prices of the railroad line. This impacts Elizabeth because a good portion of her dowry is invested in shares in that railroad.

Elizabeth is determined to investigate and get to the bottom of the whole matter despite the fact that she is firmly discouraged by her family. After all, ladies don't behave like that. They don't risk their reputations by getting involved with men from a lower social strata. Elizabeth's determination grows even stronger when he is arrested and to be tried for manslaughter for the death of one of the people he treated.

This was a nicely plotted mystery filled with all sorts of twists and turns and all sorts of secret, and not so secret, relationships. I was firmly convinced that anyone who waxed nostalgic for Victorian times was not seeing what things were really like. No woman of sense would put up with the roadblocks that Elizabeth faced as a matter of routine. Nor would any modern person wish to subject themselves to Victorian medicine. Elizabeth's frustration was almost a character in itself in this mystery.

Fans of historical mysteries will enjoy this excellent mystery and romance.

Favorite Quote:
"What sort of man do you take me for?" he added more quietly.

The sort of man who would never chase me for my fortune.

The sort of man I could fall in love with.

The sort of man I might even marry, if you could think of me that way, and if I were allowed to choose.

But I could hardly say any of that.
I got this one at NetGalley for review. You can buy your copy here.


  1. I've got this on my Kindle so I liked reading your views on this one.

  2. ooooo this looks great. Very nice quote. I love books set in Victorian england

  3. Thanks so much for the kind words, Kathy, and I'm so glad you enjoyed it! --Karen Odden


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