This is the second book in the Julia Warren mystery series by B. Lloyd and published by Inpress Books. Time-hopping from the 1890s and 1928, crime novelist Julia Warren attempts to solve a decades-old mystery of the apparent suicide of Agnes, a ladies maid…
I thought that ‘Of Soul Sincere’ was a decent crime novel – the mystery was pretty good (I certainly didn’t guess the plot twist) and the historical background was obviously well-researched and pretty well-written. Anachronisms in historical novels are a huge pet peeve of mine, so I really appreciated that! I particularly enjoyed the parts of the novel set in the 1920s – it’s such a lively and interesting period of history, and Lloyd definitely takes advantage of that.
Julia Warren herself was quite likeable, although I wish she had done a little bit more of the investigating herself – a lot of the novel felt kind of right-place-right-time, and I wanted her to put her crime novelist skills to the test! However, that might just be due to the difficulty in writing a second crime novel, and trying to distinguish it from the first, so I wasn’t too bothered by that. I hadn’t read the first novel, Greenwood Tree, but I didn’t feel like I was missing out on any key information. Each book seems to be fairly self-contained – if Lloyd is planning to create a long series of these, I think that’s probably for the best. And besides, it fits the crime genre pretty well.
The supporting characters were, on the whole, quite amusing – I especially enjoyed the characterisation of a medium, who might not be as much of a charlatan as she first appears…! I do wish that some of the characters, such as the flapper, Sarah Lane, had been characterised a little more. There was such potential in her boisterousness and beauty that could have turned her into a really fantastic character. However, that’s a bit of nit-picking from me.
Overall, I think that this is a good read for someone who likes historical crime that is relatively light. Although at times a bit spooky, it’s the type of novel that could be a pretty decent beach read.