Just beyond the Gilded Age, in the mist-covered streets of New York, the deadly Spanish influenza ripples through the city. But with so many victims in her close circle, young socialite Allene questions if the flu is really to blame. All appear to have been poisoned - and every death was accompanied by a mysterious note.
Desperate for answers and dreading her own engagement to a wealthy gentleman, Allene returns to her passion for scientific discovery and recruits her long-lost friends, Jasper and Birdie, for help. The investigation brings her closer to Jasper, an apprentice medical examiner at Bellevue Hospital who still holds her heart, and offers the delicate Birdie a last-ditch chance to find a safe haven before her fragile health fails.
As more of their friends and family die, alliances shift, lives become entangled, and the three begin to suspect everyone - even each other. As they race to find the culprit, Allene, Birdie, and Jasper must once again trust each other, before one of them becomes the next victim.
This book would have been better if it could decide what it wanted to be-- an historical novel, a romance, or a murder mystery. Instead it tried to be all three and suffered for it. As mystery it was too slow and too scattered (and the "twist" at the end was somewhat far-fetched). As a romance it suffered from unlikeable characters (frankly I did not care who ended up with whom other than a bit of eye-rolling at the turn on a dime relationship). It worked best, perhaps, as an historical novel, though it lacks a great deal of heart dealing with the pandemic.
Also, if you don't have any knowledge of chemistry or know who the Radium Girls were (fortunately I did on both counts), a very important plot element won't make a lot of sense.
Some of the writing seemed quite good, then it would sink into plodding dreary passages that had me speeding it up to get through. I did finish, but left me thinking what could have been a great book seemed more of a hot mess.
The narrator was fine except for her pronunciation of 'grippe' it is GRIP not GRIPE
95 of 104 people found this review helpful
I listened for free with Kindle Unlimited, which is often a crap shoot. Some books are awful beyond belief and some are excellent. This was the latter. I passed on it a zillion times because I’m not a big mystery/thriller fan on audio, but this was so much more than just a mystery.
The mystery was actually quite complex, and I had no clue “whodunit.” Beyond the solving the mystery aspect were the characters, all of whom were well done but the three main characters were written with such nuance. You root for all three of them—even the one woman who is rather selfish at the beginning of the story still has redeeming qualities. Each character grows as a person as they try to make good lives for themselves, which looks different for all three of them.
Loved the historical aspect—so well done—and loved the audio narrator.
I think this might be my favorite fiction read of the year.
61 of 67 people found this review helpful
And I don't like romance novels. To much repetition, to much detail off story line. Narrator sounded as sweet as narrator for Little Mermaid.
Sorry I wasted my time & money.
29 of 35 people found this review helpful
Though this is so murder mystery it reads like a literary exploration of the complexities in relationships which cross class lines. War hovers in the bsckground leading the reader to expect the appearance of the flu plague as it appears and cuts a swarth through the population of New York city. Characters grow and change so that at the end the shallow gain depth and direction while the ones at the onset whom we deem as innocent and of good will are in the end capable of planned evil for unforeseen reasons. I love a surprise. This work has many surprises.
15 of 19 people found this review helpful
Be patient it starts slow but if you give it time you’ll want to keep listening. Twists you don’t see coming ended up being worth the listen to.
10 of 13 people found this review helpful
It’s hard to write a story where one of the major characters is doomed to an early death. It took forever for the inevitable to happen. Overall the story dragged.
The narrator pronounced a lot of words wrong. “Grippe” is pronounced like “grip,” not “gripe” as the narrator said it. There were a bunch of these errors which I found disconcerting.
15 of 20 people found this review helpful
This thriller was darkly disturbing but with a well written, unique approach. As the story unfolds later by shocking layer, one doesn't know whether to love or hate the main characters because of their quirks and how they treat one another. The happenings led me toward one suspect, but I was reeling with horrified surprise when the story twisted to its conclusion. Having recently learned about the sad history of the 'radium girls', I was pleasantly surprised to see it incorporated into this story line. Darkly tragic, well crafted, but the final chapter seems incongruous, even while leaving the reader with a sense of hope for the wounded survivors of the book's events. Perhaps the author felt it necessary to dispel some of the darkness created by the previous chapters.
12 of 16 people found this review helpful
It took a bit for the story to evolve but I would not call it a romance story.
Those were turbulent times in the US, World War I and the influenza epidemic.
There was a mystery, tragedy, death and yes a bit of romance. Not a complicated story, not a YA story, even though the characters were under 19.
There's no car chases, shoot outs, any whiz bang, just a basic historical mystery.
Saskia Maarleveld adds a great deal to the story. Even though it took me a while to figure out which male character is speaking, it took nothing away from the story or her performance. I find myself taking a chance on a new author, if the synopsis sounds interesting AND Ms. Maarleveld is reading.
A lot of chemistry talk, which to be honest, for me did not add or detract from the story, just a part of it.
If you like period/historical, low key mysteries, you surely will enjoy it thoroughly, I did.
14 of 19 people found this review helpful
This historical mystery thriller read more like a romance novel or even more precisely a farce. I thought the narration was completely over the top. Maarleveld's breathy and forced style really added to the general feeling of exaggerated silliness or even buffoonery established by the writing. I think there might have been a good story in the book somewhere but I couldn't find it. The whole thing just felt like a joke.
7 of 10 people found this review helpful
I enjoyed the plot very much, as other reviewers noted, the end was quite a surprise.
The story itself was well crafted but the writing was strangely flowery, poetic but not terribly well done - for example, people scampered and sauntered and strode when simple walking would have been suff
11 of 17 people found this review helpful
WW1, radium poisoning, pandemic flu and a series of murders makes this a rather dark and dismal listen. Having said that I kept listening and the twists was there to improve things