Sunday, 21 February 2021

The Deadly Hours

Finished February 21
The Deadly Hours: An Anthology by Susanna Kearsley, C.S. Harris, Anna Lee Huber, and Christine Trent

This linked set of novellas has in common a pocket watch, one cursed from its origin in gold stolen from a church in Cartagena.
We first encounter the watch in 1733 along the Spanish coast when a fierce storm forces several ships to take shelter in a small coastal town. At the local inn, there are several players in international affairs. One has been sent to kill someone and others are on a mission to protect the same man. This first tale is by Susanna Kearsley and features her character Mary MacPherson along with her Jacobite husband Hugh. The watch is owned by Valcour, a pirate who took part in the acts in Cartagena. 
The second tale is set in the 1830s in Edinburgh and is told by Anna Lee Huber. It features her character Lady Darby and the watch seems to be linked with a number of deaths in the city, and is brought to Lady Darby's attention by a man who reappears several times in her life, the criminal leader Bonnie Brock Kincaid. She and her husband Gage track the rumours about the watch to try to save the city from the threat.
The third tale is set in London in the 1870s and is told by Christine Trent. This tale features her character the Victorian undertaker Violet Harper and her American photographer husband Samuel. Violet has been hired by a recently distinguished peer to gather his deceased relatives from wherever they are currently interred and bring them together in a new tomb. In one of the graves she opens, she finds a curious object, and it seems to bring trouble to the rich neighbourhood of her client.
The fourth and last tale is told by C.S. Harris and takes place in 1944 in a small town near Dover. The local leader of the Home Guard, and watch collector is found dead under suspicious circumstances and only one item seems to be missing from his home. When more victims are found, suspicion ranges to several foreigners living locally. The main characters here are a female historian and an MI5 agent.
I enjoyed the strong female characters in this book, and it was my first introduction to the characters in the stories. I also liked how the authors worked together to link the story of the watch over time. 

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