REVIEW of Alec Halsey Mysteries (#1-3) by Lucinda Brant

Alec Halsey MysteriesDEADLY ENGAGEMENT (Alec Halsey Mystery #1)

When Alec Halsey returns home from his diplomatic adventures, he discovers that the woman he hoped to marry is now engaged to his scornful brother, the Earl of Delvin. Even stranger deeds are afoot, however, when murder most foul attends a house party of the most glittering elites in Georgian society. Called upon to investigate, Alec must unravel who would dare attack Miss Emily in her own room and kill her maid. All evidence seems to lead to his brother, but as much as Alec would like to have revenge for the years of suffering Delvin has inflicted on him, he cannot quite believe that his highhandedly cruel and deceitfully philandering brother would stoop to murder.

Alec Halsey is a man without a defined place in the world. Disowned by his father, it is unclear whether he is older or younger than his brother Delvin who sneeringly refers to him as “Second.” He was raised by his uncle, Plantagenet Halsey, a delightful old fellow who tirelessly espouses the evils of slavery and the rights of the common man no matter which lords he might offend. His lack of position is almost a gift, however, as he can guarantee that whatever mark he makes on the world will be through his own merit.

This novel exposes the seamier side of the Georgian upper crust, showcasing a tale laced with blackmail, littered with affairs, plagued by an illegal male brothel, and pervaded by violence. As usual, Lucinda Brant knows how to create a protagonist worthy of interest and craft a page-turner worthy of late night reading, keeping the reader in suspense till the end about whodunnit in this glittering Georgian mystery.

DEADLY AFFAIR (Alec Halsey Mystery #2)

When a lowly cleric named Mr. Blackwell dies at a dinner party, the newly elevated Marquess of Halsey (Alec) is convinced that murder, not heart attack, is the culprit. Through many twists and turns, he investiagates the vicar’s connection to the Duke of Cheveley, one of the top flyers in Georgian England’s political arena. A web of crimes and cover-ups seem to surround the duke’s stepson, but can it be that the vicar was blackmailing the duke? Or is some other game afoot?

Frustrated by his relationship with Selina and her refusal to tie the knot, Alec throws all his energy into unraveling the mysteries surround the Duke of Cheveley. His apothecary-cum-valet Tam assists in diagnosing poisons while his uncle Plantagenet Halsey continues to be his loudly republican self. Another page-turner that solves the mystery, but leaves Alec on a cliff-hanger in his personal life. What will happen between Alec and Selina? And can he ever forgive her for the secret she’s kept from him?

DEADLY PERIL (Alec Halsey Mystery #3)

When his best friend Cosmo Mahon and sweet Miss Emily St. Neots are abducted by the Margrave of Midanich, Alec Halsey must return to the continent and confront a past he would rather forget. Sandwiched between the Netherlands and the German principality of Hannover, Midanich is a cold, flat, desolate land, cut in pieces by canals and by the civil war raging between the Margrave and his half-brother Viktor. But the hardships of the journey pale in comparison to the horrors awaiting Alec at the Margrave’s castle where the sinister and shadowy Princess Johanna sits like a spider waiting to suck the life out of him.

When Alec’s godmother and his beloved Selina conspire to accompany him on the diplomatic mission to save Cosmo and Emily, the level of danger increases. Can Alec still manage to keep Selina safe when he knows he may be destined to trade his life for the lives of his friends?

The plot of this book is strikingly different than the previous two books in the series even though the characters remain the same glittering Georgian cast. In some ways, it reminded me of a horror version of The Prisoner of Zenda. The story is creatively and cleverly fashioned, with Alec’s revelations about his past experiences in Midanich entering the tale at just the right time.  The suspense and creepy-factor in this book rivals classics like Rebecca. Recommended…but not for the faint of heart.

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