Saturday, November 3, 2018

ARC Review: A Dangerous Duet by Karen Odden

A Dangerous Duet
Author: Karen Odden
Publication: William Morrow Paperbacks (November 6, 2018)

Description: This dazzling new Victorian mystery from USA Today bestselling author Karen Odden introduces readers to Nell Hallam, a determined young pianist who stumbles upon the operations of a notorious—and deadly—crime ring while illicitly working as the piano player in a Soho music hall. Perfect for readers of Tasha Alexander, Anne Perry, and Deanna Raybourn.

Nineteen-year-old Nell Hallam lives in a modest corner of Mayfair with her brother Matthew, an inspector at Scotland Yard. An exceptionally talented pianist, she aspires to attend the Royal Academy; but with tuition beyond their means, Nell sets out to earn the money herself—by playing piano in a popular Soho music hall. And the fact that she will have to disguise herself as a man and slip out at night to do it doesn’t deter her.

Spending evenings at the Octavian is like entering an alternate world, one of lively energy, fascinating performers, raucous patrons—and dark secrets. And when Nell stumbles upon the operations of an infamous crime ring working in the shadows of the music hall, she is drawn into a conspiracy that stretches the length of London. To further complicate matters, she has begun to fall for the hall owner's charismatic son, Jack, who has secrets of his own.

The more Nell becomes a part of the Octavian’s world, the more she risks the relationships with the people she loves. And when another performer is left for dead in an alley as a warning, she realizes her future could be in jeopardy in more ways than one.

My Thoughts: Nineteen-year-old Nell Hallam has has been working at the Octavian music hall for some months to raise money so the she can attend the Royal Academy and study piano. Of course to do so, she needs to disguise herself as a man and not let her older brother Matthew know what she is doing. Matthew is newly an inspector at Scotland Yard. He has been quite busy lately trying to track down a ring of thieves.

Nell has some interesting times and meets some interesting people. While she tries to avoid Mr. Williams who does the hiring and firing, she gets to like spending time with Jack Drummond who is the son of the owner. A new violinist is hired and makes a play for her. But he is constantly trying to make her dislike Jack by telling lies about him. Nell also meets Jack's uncle who sells and repairs musical instruments and a number of his other friends. Learning more about him makes her fall in love with him more.

When Nell comes early to rehearse one day, she stumbles onto information that leads her to believe that the music hall is part of the crime ring. Worst of all, it looks like Jack is one of the criminals. This was an exciting story filled with adventure as Nell tries to save Jack and avoid any number of bad guys.

Nell's mother was an excellent pianist too. She abandoned the family when Nell was only one year old. Nell's mother suffered from a mental illness and her doctor is afraid that Nell might have inherited the same disease. Nell has has an unusual education with an emphasis on the logical and the rational and her music teacher taught her to keep her emotions out of her playing. Both of those things were done to try to stave off any chance of Nell inheriting her mother's mental illness.

This was an engaging story that was part thriller and part romance firmly set in the Victorian Era. I recommend it.

Favorite Quote:
"I still have to stretch," I admitted. "And it's not just my hands. It's the hardest piece I've ever played. Some days when I'm practicing, I can practically hear Chopin turning in his grave, moaning about stupid English girls tinkling away in their parlors."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from the author. You can buy your copy here.

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