Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Book Review: City of Darkness/City of Light by Kim Wright

This year, I discovered a wonderful series that immediately captured my interest. The City of Mystery Series is a historical fiction series, and focuses Scotland Yard's first forensic team. The first novel, City of Darkness takes place in London, in 1888, and follows the team as they try to uncover the true identity of Jack the Ripper, perpetrator of the so-called "Whitechapel Murders." The second novel, City of Light, is set during the Exposition Universelle in Paris, and also focuses on the Cleveland Street Scandal. Below is a review of the first two books, followed by an interview with the author, Kim Wright in the next post

! I have just downloaded City of Silence (Book 3), set in Russia, and will post a more in-depth review of this novel as soon as I finish (which won't be until I make a little more headway on my queue of books to be reviewed, unfortunately).

Of the two novels, City of Darkness was my favorite, and as it is also the first book, I will start by reviewing it.

City of Darkness drew me in right away, and kept me hooked until the very last page. The Jack the Ripper Murders are a tough subject to tackle in a mystery novel, as they remain, to this day unsolved. Regardless, the author manages to make it work very well. I fell in love with each and every character in the book, from Leanna Bainbridge, the young heiress; to her Aunt Geraldine; to spunky Emma Kelly, her maid and the Scotland Yard detectives Trevor and Rayley.

The writer has obviously conducted a significant amount of detail while writing this novel. Her attention to detail is excellent, and I love how seamlessly she weaves her fictional characters and situations into the real-life events surrounding the murders. For the purposes of the novel, the readers do get some answers to their questions about the Ripper's identity. I must say, when it was revealed, it was a total surprise! Of course, this is because I didn't recognize the name of the character as being a real-life suspect in the murders, so it may not have been such a shocker for those readers who are "Ripper experts".

City of Darkness is a fast-paced, thoroughly researched, and well-written mystery novel. With a colorful cast of characters and numerous twists and turns, I must recommend this novel to all lovers of history and good old-fashioned mystery.

City of Light follows Rayley Abrams, one of the Scotland Yard detectives to Paris, to learn more about forensics from the Parisian police. It is the time of the Exposition Universelle, an exciting time in Paris. Rayley falls in love with the mysterious Isabel Blout. Meanwhile, in London, the rest of Rayley's team are working to uncover those responsible for running a male brothel on Cleveland Street.

Once again, the author blends fiction with history, and this time Rayley gets a chance to shine. I will admit the slightly more unsavory topic is why I loved City of Darkness more than City of Light, but it was still an excellent read, that kept me interested until the very end. I was sad not to see Leanna Bainbridge in this installment, as I loved her in book 1, but happy to see Emma Kelly again, as she is one of my absolute favorites.

The characters in this series are very well developed. Each character's emotions and motivations are very clearly laid out. I really felt for each of them, especially Emma, as she dealt with the aftermath of the tragedy that occurred in book 1, and Rayley as he falls for the alluring Isabel.

The end was, again, a shocker, and well done. I loved that everything fell into place at the end. The pace of the novel was ramped up significantly, and I eagerly turned the pages to get to a thoroughly satisfying conclusion.

My Ratings: City of Darkness - 5 stars; City of Light - 5 stars

See the next post for the interview!

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