Friday, January 16, 2015

Me on Jewel of the Thames

Title: Jewel of the Thames
Author: Angela Misri
Release Date: March 25, 2014
Publisher: Fierce Ink Press

Nineteen-year-old Portia Adams has always been inquisitive. There's nothing she likes better than working her way through a mystery. When her mother dies, Portia puzzles over why she was left in the care of the extravagant Mrs. Jones but doesn't have long to dwell on it before she is promptly whisked from Toronto to London by her new guardian. Once there Portia discovers that she has inherited 221B Baker Street, the former offices of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. As she settles into her new home and gets to know her downstairs tenants, she finds herself entangled in three cases: the first involving stolen jewelry, the second a sick judge, and the final revolving around a kidnapped child. But the greatest mystery of all is her own. How did she come to inherit this townhouse? And why did her mother keep her heritage from her? Portia has a feeling Mrs. Jones knows more than she is letting on. In fact, she thinks her new guardian may be the biggest clue of all.

Jewel of the Thames is a story filled with mystery and intrigue. For our intrepid heroine, the unfortunate loss of her mother means sadness, but it also means a new life, a new city to call her own, a new adventure. But does she really want to take up the reins left by the former residents of her new home?

Portia is very introspective and extremely observant. She's isolated, little to no friends. She's very mature for her age, after caring for her mother during her illness. While she understands that the world is not always kind, she's still naive about some things. It's that battle between common sense and emotion, doing what our brain says to do over what our heart and our gut instincts say. What stands out is that she acknowledges her flaws. She knows that she can be impatient, that she has no time for time-wasters. But who would voice their flaws so matter-of-factly? She's a clever and independent young woman with a clear voice and clear opinions. Perhaps there are times when she's too analytical, but perhaps it's more that she needs to know the truth. It's her strong sense of right and wrong that pushes her deeper into the mysteries. She's a rather complex character.

The setting comes across as accurate, as does the tone and the atmosphere. This is a London that's left the Victorian and Edwardian eras behind, World War I is a decade in the past. The economy isn't doing so well. The creation and use of machines is still going strong. Everything feels rather accurate to the time period: the characters and their positions, the city and its people, and the level of technology and transportation,.

I must admit that I was wary of the addition of Holmes and Watson to Portia's story, as I was with the slightly similar Stoker & Holmes series by Colleen Gleason. But Portia has a way of standing out, setting herself apart from the two rather famous men whose casebooks she studies. There are similarities made between her intelligence and observational skills to those of Holmes and Watson, of course. How could there not be? But something still sets her apart. Is it her gender? Her self-awareness of her flaws? Her honest curiosity? Her upbringing? Her strong desire to help people?

It took a little time to get into the story. There's more narration at the beginning than I was expecting as Portia recounts the tale of her life following her mother's death. I feel that stems from having no one close to her, apart from her mother, no real friends or family still living. When she arrived in London, when the mysteries started, it took nothing to fall right into them with Portia, trying to piece them together before she could. Mystery fans should definitely give this book a try.

(I received an e-book copy of this title from Fierce Ink Press.)

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