Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The Deadly Hours: An Anthology by Susanna Kearsley, C.S. Harris, Anna Lee Huber, and Christine Trent

So I've spent every night since Sunday coming home from work and reading all night. I find myself falling asleep for a short nap around 7PM and then a few hours later, ready for bed. Except once I shut the light off my mind starts racing a million miles a minute, and I can't sleep. So on goes the light again, and reading again for a little bit. 

I'll admit my vow to start working out again this week didn't even make it past Monday morning. So darn tired in the morning I just can't get up and move. The Sue at 5 PM the night before is ready and willing to workout at 6 AM; the Sue at 5 AM the next morning is not! So I'll try again tomorrow and see if I actually do go to the gym. Even if I fail the next few days, I have chastised myself and made a vow that September 8th I WILL WORKOUT. 

All this coming home and reading had me finishing The Deadly Hours Tuesday night. Made me happy to actually accomplish something! I did enjoy the four novellas, and certainly if you aren't familiar with any of the authors, or just some of them, this anthology will give you a peak at their writing style and characters in their previous novels (and some are part of mystery series). 

The anthology follows a chronological order, from 1733 all the way up to 1944.  Susanna Kearsley is up first, and her tale sets the background of the cursed watch that is the link for all four novellas. The watch, called La Sirene, is a pocket watch fashioned from gold stolen from a church during a vicious, murderous raid by mercenaries. It's a beautifully carved watch, with a mermaid and a ship on storm tossed seas. However, the watch is cursed. Some believe it, some scoff. In 1733 it's just been around a short time, but already has a reputation. A group of people are trapped at an inn during a hurricane, and they are definitely on two different sides: one man is on the hunt to assassinate the Duke of Ormonde, who is the rightful heir to the English crown. Two couples also trapped at the inn are there to ensure the Duke is not assassinated, and must keep their true identities a secret while working to find out just what plan the assassin has...but the watch shows up, and mischief begins. Is the storm caused by La Sirene, or is it just bad luck? Is the watch really capable of killing anyone who has it in their possession?

The next three novellas follow the watch around the world, as it plays a part in a deadly sickness in Edinburgh, a string of murders in London, and the deaths of men who are working on the British side during the closing days of World War 2. In order to break the curse, the watch must endure water, earth, air, and fire. Each novella's characters do their part to break the curse, but you have to read the final story to know if the centuries old curse is finally broken. 

I liked all of the stories; in particular I very much enjoyed Anna Lee Huber's In a Fevered Hour. I had read the first few books in her Lady Darby mystery series, so the two main characters were a bit familiar to me. No, you don't have to have read any of the authors' works to follow along, but I would say you'll get curious and want to check out the series or novels written by each of the authors. Strong female characters are the center of each story, and they all use their skills to solve the mystery presented in each story. 

All in all, a great way to break my Derecho book struggle! 

Rating: 4/6 for an entertaining anthology that is tied together by one cursed watch--beautiful to look at, but terrible to own. The four authors all complimented each other's writing very nicely. If you like a little mystery, mixed with a dash of adventure and history, this will certainly entertain you. 

Available in trade paperback, audio, and e-book. 

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