Wednesday, September 09, 2020

The Deadly Hours

It's not a secret that I am a bit of a Susanna Kearsley fangirl, and I have been for a long time. It was therefore inevitable that when I saw that there was going to be a short story collection that included one of her stories, of course I was going to want to read it. It didn't matter that I hadn't read any of the other authors.

It was only until later that I actually realised that this story includes characters from The Firebird, A Desperate Fortune and also The Rose Garden, which means that it was super cool to revisit these characters.

In A Weapon of Choice, a young couple with Jacobite connections are on their way to Italy to meet the Duke of Ormonde and protect him from an assassin. Before they can reach their destination they are caught up in a massive storm and forced to take refuge in Portofino, along with two other groups of travellers. Before the storm is over, a man will be dead.

One of the travellers is in possession of La Sirene, a watched that has been been cursed after being crafted from gold sacked from Cartagena. It is engraved with a mermaid, and the outer case has a ship in a storm, and it is inscribed with the motto "Je suis le seul maĆ®tre de mon temps" , which means I am the only master of my time. Legend has it that whoever has the watch will be cursed with bad luck, until the curse is lifted. The only way for that to happen is that the watch must pass through the four elements: water, earth, air and fire.

The next time we see the watch we are in Edinburgh in 1833. In Anna Lee Huber's story In a Fevered Hour, a mysterious illness is sweeping Edinburgh and Lady Darby and her new husband find themselves investigating at the behest of a master criminal. For a short story, this had quite a lot going on and This is part of the Lady Darby series. Normally I don't like to jump in a series part way through, but I enjoyed this story and I would be more than happy to read more.

We then move forward to Christine Trent's story A Pocketful of Death, set in the 1870s. When lady undertaker Violet Harper is commissioned to move the bodies of a newly minted noble family into their new crypt. In one of the graves, she finds a watch so she returns it to the family. It isn't long before there are a number of deaths in their street. Is it because of the curse or is there something else at play? Once again this is part of an existing series which I haven't yet

The final story is called The Sirens Call by CS Harris and is set in a small coastal town in England. The Home Office has observed that there have been a number of coded messages sent to the Germans from the area around the town and so two officers are sent to investigate. When Rachel Townsend-Smythe find her long time friend Major Crosby dead, she notices that one of his prized possessions is missing: a gold watch. As the finger of blame is pointed at various people in town, Rachel helps one of the investigators to find the truth. While I haven't read this author before, I have had the first book in the Sebastian St Cyr series sitting on my bookshelf for many years. Maybe I should actually read it!

I enjoyed following the watch through time and it's a good premise for a short story collection, although it did take a minute to adjust to each new story. While I picked up the book for Kearsley, I stayed for the other stories!

I am counting this as a read for this year's RIP XV challenge.

Rating 4/5


A stellar line-up of historical mystery novelists weaves the tale of a priceless and cursed gold watch as it passes through time wreaking havoc from one owner to another. The characters are irrevocably linked by fate, each playing a key role in breaking the curse and destroying the watch once and for all.
From 1733 Italy to Edinburgh in 1831 to a series of chilling murders in 1870 London, and a lethal game of revenge decades later, the watch touches lives with misfortune, until it comes into the reach of one young woman who might be able to stop it for good.
This outstanding collaboration of authors includes:
Susanna Kearsley – New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of compelling time slip fiction.
C.S. Harris – bestselling author of the Sebastian St. Cyr Regency mystery series.
Anna Lee Huber – award-winning author of the national bestselling Lady Darby Mysteries.
Christine Trent – author of the Lady of Ashes Victorian mystery series.


  1. I'm looking forward to reading this anthology. So happy to see Hugh and Mary (A Desperate Fortune) put in an appearance.
    I've not read anything by Christine Trent, so she is an unknown. I'm an avid reader of C.S. Harris' St.Cyr mysteries and have read some of the Lady Darby mysteries by Anna Lee Huber, which I enjoyed, but I prefer her Verity Kent post World War I series.

    1. I might have to take a look at the Verity Kent series! Thanks for the tip Yvonne!

  2. I think I want to read this! Just for the Susanna Kearsley story alone.

  3. I am so glad you mentioned this because I was on the fence about the book - not much of a short story fan but I do love Kearsley! In fact, I drove hours in the rain to go to a book signing in Rhode Island several years ago. Of course, I was glad I had, once I got there!

    1. I am spending my Saturday morning listening to her talk about this book online.I would love to meet her personally, although I would probably embarrass myself by gushing too much!