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4.0 out of 5 starsDelightful read
Reviewed in Canada on July 6, 2018
Having read her other books, I was anxious to read The Dark before Dawn. I was not disappointed. The twist of a woman living as a man during this time period was very clever and I enjoyed the different perspective it offered to the story. Terrific summer book to get lost in!
4.0 out of 5 starsThis beginning to a new Fixsen series grew on me the more I read.
Reviewed in the United States on August 10, 2018
Guess I'm rounding to 4 stars for this. It took me a while to get interested in the story. For some reason, this beginning to a new series by Fixsen, in a new genre (historical mystery/spy novel), did not appeal to me at first, but as the story progressed, I gradually warmed up to it and, by the end, knew I'd be reading the second book in the series when it's released.
Fixsen's earlier novels are historical romances. I've read all of her Fairchild Regency romance series and enjoyed the three novels and one novella. Fixsen does a good job of developing her characters and kept me reading the whole series to find out what would happen to the Fairchild family and their friends.
Now, in the new series, it's still Regency times, but the setting is Vienna, not England. It's 1814, the time of the Vienna Congress, with lots of political intrigue and diplomacy and, of course, lots of spies and diplomats to be found from numerous countries.
Our protagonist is Kasper Stark, secretary to the head of Austria's secret police. As the story begins, Kasper has set up a night rendezvous at St. Stephen's crypt with a Count von Olsberg. Olsberg, it seems, is being blackmailed by Kasper, who holds some incriminating evidence against him.
Things don't go according to plans. Kasper is wounded and Olsberg ends up dead. The main plot of the rest of the story revolves around finding Olsberg's murderer, who could be just about anyone, considering how unlikeable the man apparently was. His brother? His wife? Disgruntled lovers? Unhappy associates?
And Kasper must be careful not to be discovered as Olsberg's blackmailer, since this would cast suspicion upon Kasper as Olsberg's possible murderer. And there are other secrets about Kasper that should not be revealed.
Lots of intrigue here. A great cast of characters. There's even a hint of romance, perhaps to be continued in the next book. Or perhaps not.
Kasper's character is quite complex, as you will learn in the reading, but that's really all I should say. Readers need to go into this with little prior knowledge of characters and plot for maximum surprise and enjoyment.
Reviewed in the United States on September 1, 2018
I had never heard of this author and I thought that I wasn’t really in the mood for something a bit ‘heavy’ when I opened the book and was going to close it and find a lighter one. Too late! I read the first couple of pages and I was lost, completely hooked, and stayed that way until I had finished.
Vienna in 1814 is a hotbed of spies, intrigues, and dalliances. Heads of State, diplomats, and everyone with a grievance and hopes of some reparation are crowding into Vienna for the Congress after decades of war.
Kasper Stark has been seconded to Austria’s Secret Police as a secretary for the duration of the Congress and when a Prussian count is found murdered, Kasper and Anton Spaller, another of the secretaries, are tasked with finding the murderer. Kasper has his own reasons for finding the murderer and there are a number of people, both male and female who had reason to kill the count as he was a thoroughly unsavoury man.
This story is anything but ‘heavy’ as I had initially thought and is rather startling but credible. There is a vein of humour lurking within the writing and the characters are many and varied and are brought to life by the author with all the complexities of real people. The city is well-described from the great palaces and churches to the mean little alleys and has obviously been as thoroughly researched as the historical setting of the story.
This story is one that I lost myself in and one I will read again. Memorable characters, history woven into the fabric of the story, intelligent, talented writing, a great suspenseful story. What more could a reader possibly want?