Virtual Book Tour September 18 – October 13, 2023
As a child, the public library was a magical venue where I wandered freely, my attention captured by books and stories about different cultures, people, places, and historical times. That probably explains my passion for fiction and non-fiction alike, and for exploring unfamiliar worlds found by reading across genres. Along the way, I discovered new-to-me authors; Katharine Schellman is one of those authors whose historical fiction has earned its place in my own personal library.
In Murder at Midnight, Schellman presents an intriguing puzzle set within the context of 1815-1816, the latter years of the Regency period. As the story opens, the constraints of gender, age, marital status, and social position in a highly stratified society become evident. As a widow, protagonist Lily Adler is less confined by her age and gender, which allows her the freedom to behave in ways other women of a similar or younger age cannot. This contrast is well demonstrated when Lily offers to lend her support to a family she’s close to, and to independently investigate rumors that pose a serious threat to the family’s youngest, unmarried daughter, and to the social standing of the family itself.
As the evening continues, though, Lily finds her independence challenged by an offer of marriage from someone she considers a dear friend. Unprepared to even consider a proposal, she’s reluctant to give an answer and requests time to consider the offer. Her request proves providential as the story unfolds.
As a researcher, I appreciate the historical authenticity and accuracy evident in her work. One such authentic element was the unusual weather that caused a Christmastide ball to lead to murder and mystery. If you’re unfamiliar with the weather of that time period, consider this excerpt from the author’s notes:
In April 1815, the volcano Mount Tambora, located in what is today known as Indonesia, erupted. It was a massive event, the largest eruption the world had experienced in at least 1,300 year. Scientists believe it led to a volcanic winter that lowered global temperatures in 1816….
It was known as The Year Without a Summer. And if you’re a writer who needs an uncommon December snowfall in the middle of England that’s severe enough to strand a houseful of people for several days, that makes 1816 a convenient time to set a book.
Fans of Agatha Christie, in particular, are sure to recognize the impact of a heavy snowfall and icy conditions that unexpectedly make travel impossible and isolates guests in a country home. Accepting accommodations and attire offered by their hostess, the guests scatter to their assigned rooms as the snow continues to fall. During the night, the sound of tree limbs snapping beneath their burden of snow and ice masks the sound of a gunshot. The gruesome discovery of a dead man in the snow spurs Lily who, along with her magistrate brother-in-law and two dear friends—including the one who proposed—to accept her hostesses’ pleas to solve the murder.
Assumptions based on conversational excerpts and confusing clues steer our amateur sleuth and others along a series of investigative paths, leading the reader through a plot full of unexpected twists and turns. The result is a compelling story that will keep you engaged until the end!
Perfect for fans of Deanna Raybourn and Ashley Weaver, when a body is found shot to death after an unexpected snowstorm, Lily Adler quickly realizes that some people will stop at nothing to bury their secrets.
Regency widow Lily Adler is looking forward to a quiet Christmastide away from the schemes and secrets she witnessed daily in London. Not only will she be visiting the family of her late husband; she will be reunited with Captain Jack Hartley, her friend and confidante, finally returned after a long voyage at sea.
But secrets aren’t only found in London. Jack’s younger sister, Amelia, is the center of neighborhood scandal and gossip. She refuses to tell anyone what really happened, even when an unexpected snowstorm strands the neighborhood families together after a Christmas ball. Stuck until the snow stops, the Adlers, Hartleys, and their neighbors settle in for the night, only to be awakened in the morning by the scream of a maid who has just discovered a dead body.
The victim was the well-to-do son of a local gentleman–the same man whose name has become so scandalously linked to Amelia’s.
With the snow still falling and no way to come or go, it’s clear that someone in the house was responsible for the young man’s death. When suspicion instantly falls on Jack’s sister, he and Lily must unmask the true culprit before Amelia is convicted of a crime she didn’t commit.
Praise for Murder at Midnight:
“Delightful . . . Historical mystery fans will devour this holiday treat.”
~ Publishers Weekly
“A plummy period whodunit with a colorful collection of suspects.”
~ Kirkus Reviews
Genre: Historical mystery
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: September 2023
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781639104321 (ISBN10: 1639104321)
Series: A Lily Adler Mystery, 4
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads | Penguin Random House
Read an excerpt:
Katharine Schellman is a former actor and one-time political consultant. These days, she writes the Lily Adler Mysteries and the Nightingale Mysteries. Her books, which reviewers have praised as “worthy of Agatha Christie or Rex Stout” (Library Journal, starred review), have received multiple accolades, including being named a Library Journal Best Crime Fiction of 2022, a Suspense Magazine Best Book of 2020, and a New York Times editor’s pick in June 2022. Katharine lives and writes in the mountains of Virginia in the company of her husband, children, and the many houseplants she keeps accidentally murdering.
Catch Up With Katharine Schellman:
BookBub – @KatharineSchellman
Instagram – @katharinewrites
Facebook – @katharineschellman
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My thanks to Partners in Crime for an advance copy of this book. Opinions expressed are my own.