Saturday, April 16, 2022

Review: Marion Lane and the Deadly Rose by T.A. Willberg

by T.A. Willberg
Release Date: February 1st, 2022
2022 Park Row
Kindle Edition; 304 Pages
ISBN: 978-0778311942
Audiobook: B09K4KQKL6
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Historical
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

It's 1959 and a new killer haunts the streets of London, having baffled Scotland Yard. The newspapers call him The Florist because of the rose he brands on his victims. The police have turned yet again to the Inquirers at Miss Brickett's for assistance, and second-year Marion Lane is assigned the case.

But she's already dealing with a mystery of her own, having received an unsigned letter warning her that one of the three new recruits should not be trusted. She dismisses the letter at first, focusing on The Florist case, but her informer seems to be one step ahead, predicting what will happen before it does. But when a fellow second-year Inquirer is murdered, Marion takes matters into her own hands and must come face-to-face with her informer--who predicted the murder--to find out everything they know. 
My Thoughts
Marion Lane and the Deadly Rose is the second book in this historical mystery series, and while I loved the world, the interesting gadgets and inventions, the secret tunnels, and everything else that smacks of secrecy, I did feel like something was missing from the story. Parts of it did drag considerably and does everything have to have a love triangle?  

Marion Lane was an interesting main character and I do feel like there is plenty of room to develop her character in future books considering she is still an apprentice and not a full-blown investigator. I like how the author creates issues between her and her friends as she is asked to investigate certain activities under secrecy; I personally think the issues don't go far enough and the author missed a golden opportunity to really explore how important trust is in such a profession and how it can erode a working relationship.  

While I enjoyed the overall story, I couldn't overlook the plot holes that existed throughout. The choppy writing style didn't help and as I had not read the first novel, I was paying close attention to relationships and characters, so I did notice some inconsistencies which could be confusing.  And while most of the action took place at Miss Brickett's, I only have vague notions as to what anyone actually does outside of the institution. Considering this is the Cold War, the whole institution seems a bit simplistic to me, and very mismanaged, and I really feel like all of them would actually be killed quite easily if they were involved in some actual missions.  

Marion Lane and the Deadly Rose is one of those books over which I had mixed feelings. I thoroughly enjoyed the setting, loved the idea of it, but felt it lacked in actual reality especially if you have any good knowledge of Cold War exploits. However, taking place in 1959 does give the author plenty of scope to develop Cold War intrigue and conspiracies and having a heroine who is not a full-fledged investigator also allows for character development, but the author has not yet taken advantage of this as of yet.  There was enough interesting aspects to the plot to keep my interest, but there were sections that were slow and needed some development. As always, I recommend you check this book out for yourself, but at this point, I am not sure if I will read the next book in the series.