A Poisonous Journey (Lady Evelyn Mystery #1) by Malia Zaidi
Publication Date: August 27th 2015 (first published August 25th 2015)
Read Date: March 12th 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction / Cozy Mystery
Stars: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The year is 1925, a time that hovers between two catastrophic wars, a time of jazz and sparkle, and a time of peace and reflection. For Lady Evelyn, struggling to outrun the ghosts of her tragic past, it is a time of transformation. Left orphaned after a fire when she was only four, Lady Evelyn Carlisle was raised in London by her stern aunt and uncle. Now, twenty years later she has grown restless and is keen to escape her chaperone’s grasp. A letter from her cousin, Briony, living with her husband on Crete, comes at just the right time. Packing what she can, Lady Evelyn makes off for foreign shores.
Welcoming her are not only Briony and her husband, Jeffrey, but also his handsome and mysterious friends, Caspar Ballantine and Daniel Harper. Though the latter carries with him tragic memories of the Great War, Evelyn is glad to be in their company. With the sun warming her back and the dazzling sea in her sights, this fresh start seems destined for happy days ahead. Little does she know . . . What starts off as a sunny holiday quickly turns into a sinister nightmare, when Evelyn stumbles across the corpse of one of her cousin’s houseguests. Drawn into the mystery surrounding the murder, Evelyn embarks on a mission to discover the truth, forcing her to face her own past as well as a cold-hearted killer. With the help of her cousin, the handsome local police detective, and the mysterious Daniel Harper, will she uncover the truth, before another life is claimed?
A Poisonous Journey was cozy murder mystery set in Crete, in 1925. Apart from murder mystery and armature sleuthing skills of main character, Evelyne Carlisle, book covered historical and archaeological aspects, effects of Great War on character, social values and prejudice, scandals and humanity.
Evelyn was emotive, empathetic character who felt for other characters around her. The grief she faced at younger age was still lingering in her life clouding her otherwise lively nature. But she was much stronger than she believed. She discovered a new self on foreign land and I loved how she was portrayed, how she did and said right thing like a proper English lady. She was honest, open and free spirit that quickly grew on me.
Briony was perfect host, wife, and sister but not happy because of childless life. Jeffery, Briony’s husband was workaholic and blunt-natured who failed to see his wife’s loneliness and suffering but otherwise was lovely husband and brother-in-law.
Daniel was gentleman who has gone through lot in life. And losing his best friend soon after arrival of Evelyn was tough blow but I liked how he remained strong, in control of himself and his emotion. Like Evelyn, his life was also interesting aspect of the story.
There were many other characters in the book- suspects, inspector, Evelyn’s relatives- they all fit perfectly in the story. They were developed, realistic and I loved to read about them.
Writing was rich and exquisite fitting the setting of the book. English land and weather, Crete- its geographical aspects and festivity, delicacies, weather and people, mythical interest of character was flawlessly written. 1925, a time period soon after WWI reflected distinctly in the story.
Book started with intriguing prologue and 17 years later Evelyn’s escape from aunt Agne’s constraining life and nature to her cousin sister’s place in Crete, to enjoy her freedom and life but her holiday plans soon turns into a murder mystery that changed her life and perspective.
Characters’ emotions were realistic and relatable. Sisterly bond of Evelyn and Brinoy was another cozy relation that I loved to read. Growing friendship of Evelyn and Daniel was sweet and charming which gave life to story and uplift their spirit during their melancholy grieving situation. I’m eager to see development in their relations in next books of the series.
What I loved most about the book was intermittent deep thoughts of Evelyn and Daniel towards life and humanity, conversations between characters, their way of presenting thoughts, understanding each other’s emotion, and less technology era that allowed characters and as well as readers to appreciate beauty of Crete. (I so want to go back to letter writing period after reading this book.)
First 30% of the book was mainly character introduction, building the setting and a murder of Casper, one of the guest at Briony’s villa. We get to know past of Evelyn and Daniel more closely in just few pages, Briony’s married life issue and bits about secondary characters who might be suspects. I couldn’t figure out the motive of murder but it was very clear Casper was no saint.
I was shocked by what Evelyn and Daniel discovered about Casper at around 45% of the book, the first clue that cleared the motive. Story became more interesting from here. As it progressed the scandals, secrets, and polite social behavior were unraveled. One by one I saw each characters as suspect except Evelyn and Briony. I couldn’t even trust Daniel completely. Whether it was conversation, sightseeing or day to day routine, murder was all that took focal point of the story that kept me impatient as well as curious to solve this complicated mystery.
Climax was great. I honestly didn’t expect that person to be murder and I almost felt bad for culprit but finding out the real motive apart from what was confessed was shocking that instantly made me change my thoughts. End was great. I can’t wait to read next book.
Overall, it was steady paced, interesting, historical, cozy murder mystery with developed characters and insights. I highly recommend this book to cozy mystery lovers.
Author: Malia Zaidi
*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the author via damppebbles blog tours, in exchange for an honest review. ***
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