Select one of the keywords
Deadlier Than the Pen: A Diana Spaulding Mystery    by Kathy Lynn Emerson order for
Deadlier Than the Pen
by Kathy Lynn Emerson
Order:  USA  Can
Pemberley, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Nina de Angeli

Left penniless by the early death of her gambler husband, Diana Spaulding struggles to make a living as a theater columnist for a New York newspaper, hoping to become a full-fledged reporter like the real-life Nellie Bly. The newspaper circulation wars of the 1880s threaten her job if she fails to dig out the secret life of popular horror novelist Damon Bathory, thereby creating a sensational scandal. Diana must forget her genteel upbringing and brazenly pursue the devilishly handsome but elusive Bathory as he flees New York. What is his dark secret? Is Bathory connected to the slayings of three other young women who crossed his path? The closer Diana gets to finding out, the more her life seems to be in danger.

Fast-paced and well-researched, with a strong element of romantic suspense, this book recreates both rural New England's village life and gaslit New York's glamorous theater district, replete with bustled and corseted ladies, smoke-belching locomotives, and a spicy dash of melodrama perfectly suited to the times. Especially vivid are the scenes of Diana and all her suspects trapped in a snowbound train during the historic Blizzard of 1888. The striking jacket design cleverly imitates the Police Gazette, a real 1880s scandal sheet, matching the tone of the book. Diana is an engaging character, surviving her tribulations with undaunted optimism and the help of old friends from a traveling theatrical troop.

This is the first in a promising new series by Emerson, an author best known to mystery fans for her delightful Face Down series of Elizabethan period mysteries featuring Lady Susanna Appleton. I'm looking forward to Diana's next adventure.

Note: This book will be available in March 2004.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews