Winter at Death's Hotel by Kenneth Cameron was pitched as a book to "get through the long summer hiatus" when Sherlock and Elementary are on their breaks. True to their word, Sourcebooks and Cameron deliver with this mystery novel.
About the book
Sourcebooks // 8.6.13
In January 1896, Conan Doyle arrives at the Britannic Hotel in New York with Louisa, ready to begin his first American tour. When a woman's brutally butchered corpse is found in a Bowery alley, Louisa is convinced from the artist's sketch in the paper that she'd seen the victim at the hotel.
When Louisa sprains her ankle and is forced to remain at the hotel while her husband goes on tour, she cannot resist pursuing her intuitions. And when more bodies start appearing, she's convinced that she holds the key to solving the killings.
I don't read a lot of mysteries anymore- I used to be all about a good mystery and would read them like they were going out of style. Somewhere along the line, I just stopped picking them up. Winter at Death's Hotel was a book that made me question why I ever stopped devouring mysteries.
When Winter at Death's Hotel came across my mailbox, I was skeptical at first. I read some Sherlock Holmes forever ago (and don't remember it much, honestly) and have watched both Elementary and Sherlock on and off. I have not been faithful to Holmes and worried I would struggle to be faithful to this book. How wrong I was!
Winter at Death's Hotel is set in the winter of 1896 in New York City. The beginning lays the setting and sets the characters in motion. As much as I love a deep background, it did get a bit heavy handed. The big surprise in this novel is that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is not the shinning star - instead it is his wife, Louisa, who takes the spotlight. Cameron did a beautiful job describing her character. It was marvelous to read about MRS. Doyle instead! Not only did Cameron lay out her character, but he also did a remarkable job writing for the time period. The language and treatment of women stuck out as I read this. It was disheartening, because I know that it is all brutally honest. Women were second class then- even if you were the wife of a famous author.
The scene is set and soon Arthur is on his way lecturing across America while Louisa is stuck in a hotel with not very much to do. This is when the novel really picks up. We've heard about this Bowery Butcher that kills women and is on the loose in the City. As you read on, you realize that Louisa is suddenly fully immersed in the killings. How exactly, did she get so tangled in this web of murder? Before you know it, Louisa is a full time sleuth on the case. All of Arthur's writing have rubbed off and she is ready to solve the mystery of the Bowery Butcher.
This novel is a fabulous mystery. I was on the edge of my seat, especially after I worked my way through the early chapters. It got off to a slow start for me, but then it took off like a jet. Suddenly, I couldn't put it down and all I could do was work over the details in my head to try and solve the mystery before Louisa (which I failed at doing, by the way). The conclusion was a thrilling ride! I was excited to learn the truth, and it made mulling the entire novel over quite interesting. The ending let the book open to another in the series, and I cannot wait.
This book is a definite must-read for fans of Holmes and fans of murder mysteries. I think this would also be a fun novel for anyone interested in the time period- Cameron did a spectacular job putting the reader right there in 1896.
Readers do need to be aware that this book does contain some racy language and some disturbing descriptions. If you have a weak stomach, some of the murder details may make you cringe.
About the author
Kenneth Cameron is a former U.S. Navy intelligence officer, and the author/coauthor of more than thirty books, including the Denton crime novel series, historical novels, novels of espionage, plays staged in Britain and the U.S., and the award-winning Africa on Film: Beyond Black and White. Together with his son, Christian Cameron, he wrote a series of military thrillers published under the name Gordon Kent. He lives part of the year in northern New York and part in coastal North Carolina.
write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow
FTC: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Book and author information provided by the publisher, Sourcebooks.
Image from Amazon.com