I reviewed the first book by Nicola – The Hidden Bones – last year and now the series has its own name. “Hills and Barbrook” after the two main archeology characters.
The Lost Shrine can be read as a stand alone although there are mentions to some of the events in book one, and an unfinished thread to move us forward. Clare, David and Jo, and others are back and already they feel familiar. There’s also some new characters including a local druid who makes things – interesting.
Clare is let loose leading her own dig in the Cotswolds, one their unit needs the money from to stay afloat. They’ve been hired by a commercial property developer to disprove the theory of the previous site lead. At least that’s what he’s hoping. The ethics of such a job is explored really well, especially when the neighbourhood is against the development too.
The police are back too. Sally, David’s other half is back in Salisbury heading up a murder investigation, the ladies in this series definitely have their work cut out for them. And is Mark Stone in the Cotswolds a help, a hindrance, or something more? Was the previous site lead’s death really a macabre suicide?
As with the previous book the tension grows throughout from a Time Team style dig (loved the drone operator’s nickname) to English country crime thriller. Hills and Barbrook have settled in with book two and I’m with them for the journey.
I was gifted a copy by the publisher for the purposes of this honest review.
The Lost Shrine is our now and ebook readers are in luck because the book is available for a mere 99p this week. Go dig it up.
Lady Evelyn Carlisle has returned home to England, where she is completing her degree at St. Hugh’s, a women’s college in Oxford. Her days are spent poring over ancient texts and rushing to tutorials. All is well until a fateful morning, when her peaceful student life is turned on its head. Stumbling upon the gruesome killing of someone she thought she knew, Evelyn is plunged into a murder investigation once more, much to the chagrin of her friends and family, as well as the intriguing Detective Lucas Stanton. The dreaming spires of Oxford begin to appear decidedly less romantic as she gathers clues, and learns far more than she ever wished to know about the darkness lurking beyond the polished veneer. Can she solve the crime before the killer strikes once more, this time to Evelyn’s own detriment?
About the Author
Malia Zaidi is a writer and painter, who grew up in Germany and lives in the US. An avid reader and traveler, she decided to combine these passions, and turn her long-time ambition of writing into a reality. The Study of Silence is the third book in The Lady Evelyn Mysteries.
What I thought
Despite being the third book in the Lady Evelyn series it didn’t matter that I hadn’t read the previous two; author Malia does a good job of introducing all of the new and existing characters.
Told from Evelyn, or Evie’s perspective I immediately was drawn to her as a character. Like any murder mystery “detective” Evie has a knack of being around when someone is killed. In this book she has returned from Greece and is studying Classics at Oxford. I loved the inclusion of Greek myth and history and how Evie makes the link between that and the case in question. I also really enjoyed the period it was set in (1926) and the exploration of Women’s Suffrage and the Impact of The Great War (World War 1). Through Evie the reader gets a nuanced observation of the times. I like how she is struggling with the concept of being a ‘modern woman’ whilst still being shackled by traditional expectations – especially that of the ‘ever-present-in-her- head’ Aunt Agnes. Evie’s own upbringing is very interesting and she is haunted by the death of her parents when she was young. I do wonder whether reading the earlier books in the series would have shed further light on that, or whether the series is even building up to exploring her history in more detail. Author Malia is already at work on the sixth Lady Evelyn mystery.
I found it intriguing how the red herrings started even before the murder, with me mis-guessing who the victim was going to be. And as ever suspicion on who the murderer is switches repeatedly.
I loved the link to the title and the concept of silence is really well explored in both subtle and more explicit ways.
If you are after a fast paced murder mystery with a swift denouement then this isn’t quite that read. But don’t let that put you off. Instead it is a clever exploration of love and the human condition in general with a well plotted murder mystery added. As with any good murder mystery series the story of the “detective” is also paramount and Lady Evelyn is a great character.
I will definitely be picking up the first two stories and continuing to read as each new book is released. Fans of the middle grade series Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens or the young adult series Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco should enjoy this adult series too.
Thank you to Malia and Jenny of Neverland Blog Tours for the eARC of the book for the purpose of this honest review.