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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Biddle, Cordelia Frances: Deception's Daughter

  Amazon  

4 stars

Deception's Daughter is the second book in Cordelia Frances Biddle's series of Martha Beale mysteries. Martha is an heiress living in mid-19th century Philadelphia. Her enviable financial situation has made her more than usually free to determine her own fate with respect to marriage. She has her sights on Thomas Kelman, an investigator working in conjunction with Philadelphia's mayor, despite that he's an unsuitable match for her by society's standards. In this outing Martha and Thomas must contend with a series of problems in addition to their romantic fumblings and misunderstandings--most seriously, the disappearance of the daughter of one of Philadelphia's leading families. The book takes readers from the well-appointed drawing rooms of Philadelphia's finest to the sorry confines of an almshouse to the city's lowest dives, where some of the aristocratic suspects in the girl's disappearance are wont to go slumming.

This is the first historical fiction I've read from Cordelia Biddle, but I doubt it will be my last. (Biddle is also the co-author, with her husband, of a series of crossword mysteries published under the pseudonym Nero Blanc.) Deception's Daughter offers a solid mystery, rich period detail, good writing, and likable characters who protest against but are ultimately hemmed in by the starchy confines of their times. On the negative side, there are a couple of chapters in which the tone of the book shifts subtly, when the author is describing a trip taken by the fiancé of the girl who's gone missing, which I found mildly distracting. Also, there is one passage in which Martha appears to have a prophetic dream, though this seems out of keeping with the rest of the narrative and isn't explained.

While the main mystery of Deception's Daughter is solved at the book's end, Martha's romantic life and smaller family-related problems are left unsettled, awaiting the next book in Biddle's series. I'll be happy to pick up the story when number three is released. Fans of Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series may find the Martha Beale books to their taste.

Comments

1.

This one sounds terrific. I think I just found a new author!

2.

Great! I'm glad to hear it!

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