THE FRAMED WOMEN OF ARDEMORE HOUSE by Brandy Schillace

THE FRAMED WOMEN OF ARDEMORE HOUSE by Brandy Schillace

THE FRAMED WOMEN OF ARDEMORE HOUSE by Brandy Schillace is all aces in TFF’s book, and this preview review aims to uncover some of what makes this engaging mystery so damn good, without lifting the veil too much.

This story is one of the more perplexing murder mysteries you may come across, combining new, thrilling elements with style!

Agatha Christie would love Schillace’s THE FRAMED WOMEN OF ARDEMORE HOUSE.

Not only are the brilliant and extremely engaging facets to this case enveloping, but solving a murder by antique pistol, as well as the mysterious disappearance of a rare Ardemore family portrait that may be connected, prove to be difficult entanglements that unwind in wholly unexpected ways and leaves the reader feverishly turning pages to follow the threads.

The following Preview Book Review of THE FRAMED WOMEN OF ARDEMORE HOUSE by Brandy Schillace is SPOILER-FREE.

Schillace’s characters, from the outsider-protagonist Jo Jones, to the Detective Inspector MacAdams with his inferiority complex due to his divorce, to Gwilym the young antique and hobby collector, and to the brazen Irish innkeeper and fellow outsider, Tula, they all stand up with great intrigue and pack a punch.

To ramble a little, characters are the lifeblood of fiction, with few memorable exceptions.

The one I come back to frequently is the Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov, because it simultaneously thwarts the rules by creating a compelling and innovative pillar of science-fiction without (I argue, though some disagree) characters being central to the story told over the course of centuries.

I appreciate Foundation for that, but my favorite work of Asimov is and will always be THE END OF ETERNITY.

Aside from being used for near every time travel tale post-H.G. Wells, THE END OF ETERNITY has memorable and incredibly realistic characters that you root for.

They make you love the story.

Just as each character in THE FRAMED WOMEN OF ARDEMORE HOUSE stands out in their own ways and brings you on a wholly uncharted journey to a murder / painting mystery, this too is a story to love.

The young American woman, Jo, inherits an old estate with a decrepit English manor house that holds her in uncomfortable territory.

She finds hidden in a locked room what appears to be an Ardemore family portrait of an unknown relative that was taken from the library for some reason.

Shortly thereafter, it is stolen.

And then a body turns up.

The neurodivergent Jo felt like an outsider before she becomes a suspect in the murder, and that feeling only grows as she attempts to solve the crimes and find out who was the Ardemore mystery woman.

The witty, charming, and intelligent character of Jo is thirsty for answers.

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And despite her difficulty overcoming a not-too-distant divorce with a husband that continually reminded her of her autism and her behavioral faux pas – some of which she deems may be fair and some of which are certainly not – she collects herself time and again and proves to be insightful, well-read, and courageous as she presses on.

The insight into the way this character thinks is exciting, and makes me feel like I am privy to a behind the scenes look into the methods of Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes that is essential to their effectiveness in solving a crime.

Schillace’s Jo Jones is flawed and extremely realistic.

The ways in which Jo reflects on how she thinks – especially using memories of her experiences to guide her – makes for a refreshing new perspective into someone who is on the spectrum and not just surviving society, but thriving despite it.

In a touching moment, the Irish innkeeper speaks of leaving her home and landing in England as an outsider, like Jo, and then the younger woman reveals a fun and difficult attribute:

“Words have just always been my people…and I don’t forget them after I read them.

“Ever? Like a photographic memory?” Tula asked. Jo scrunched up her nose. She’d never liked the term.

“It doesn’t work like that. I can recite from most of the books I’ve read–but it has to be triggered…sometimes the connections I see aren’t really there…but sometimes it means I see connections other people can’t see.”

The marked self-reflection makes the reader empathize with Jo in a deeply impactful way.

Despite the social difficulties of inter-personal relationships and reactions to situations, social norms, and speech that are often a struggle for Jo Jones, she proves to be an exceptional force in the book and a very relatable person of interest.

 

THE FRAMED WOMEN OF ARDEMORE HOUSE by Brandy Schillace is out tomorrow – February 13, 2024 – so get your copy post-haste!

 

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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“THE FRAMED WOMEN OF ARDEMORE HOUSE by Brandy Schillace” Book Review Was Written By R.J. Huneke.

 

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Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Mystery By Russ Colchamiro

Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Mystery By Russ Colchamiro

Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Mystery by Russ Colchamiro combines compelling characters with noir-mystery and sci-fi tropes and blasts them into exciting new territory.

What is the audience for this work of speculative fiction? This is from the book’s description on Bookshop.org:

“[Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Sci-Fi Mystery is] For fans of Doctor Who, Blade Runner and Philip Marlowe…”

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And Crackle and Fire is just the first in The Angela Hardwicke Mysteries Book 1 series. Book 2 is coming in the not-too-distant future.

The following book review of Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Mystery contains **MILD SPOILERS for the book’s plot in the opening.

Russ Colchamiro’s tale combines many of my favorite plot elements and world building for an innovative, gritty, pull-no punches neo-noir-mystery in the Universe.

The Universe may span the outer reaches of space, myriad places of which earth is just a tiny blip on the radar, and that is all the more reason for the need of the PI, the private investigator Angela Hardwicke.

Her inner monologue is self-critical and always interesting, as this inner speech often betrays to the reader the nerves that flare up, or the terror that floods her vision, when on the outside, she appears as cool as they come.

Angela Hardwicke has seen a lot and her mannerisms – such as having the tears in her long trench coat sewn over and over again – show a vast amount of experience, stubbornness, and grit.

The woman is savvy and cautious, but also tired; she is as tired as any of Raymond Chandler’s most worn-out cops, PIs, or fugitives.

The writing echoes Hardwicke’s exhaustion, and right from the outset of the story her mental weariness proves very costly.

She slips up in taking on a case from a likeable guy that is so nervous he borders on squirrelly.

And what a fun character Gil Haberseau turns out to be!

The accountant is terrible at math.

But people like him, so he gets on pretty well.

That is, at least until Gil’s intern disappears with stolen files tied to the worst of the mob, the Anshanis.

When Hardwicke wants no part of the ruthless Anshanis (after a past run-in gone sour), Gil corrals her by mentioning her name was in the stolen files, which is why he has come to her.

But he has almost no information to give the PI that will help her track down the missing intern.

She can feel the lies, the inherent danger that is only showing the tip of the iceberg above the water’s surface.

And then, as clacking shots are made on pool tables around her, the obvious damning truth – the omitted truth – comes home to her, but not in a self-reliant epiphany; it is her friends that have to explain it to her.

Gil is no accountant.

And his ‘intern’ may come from other dimensions in the vast multiverse to their own universal realm, Eternity, meaning the stakes and the complications pertaining to them are infinitely more than Hardwicke could ever have imagined.

To start the case, really start the case this time, she ambushes her own client in his apartment and confronts him for his lies.

The intern, from a remote planet called earth, could be big trouble.

The story is riveting in both the personal aspects of its characters and the page-turning action, but it also has a grandiose scope far beyond the notion of the known universe.

Bravo!

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Fractured Lives: An Angela Hardwicke Sci-Fi Mystery (The Angela Hardwicke Mysteries Book 2) By Russ Colchamiro will be released in September 2021!


The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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“Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Mystery By Russ Colchamiro” was written by R.J. Huneke.