The Deadly Hours by Susanna Kearsley;C.S. Harris;Anna Lee Huber; Christine Trent

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Je suis le seul maître de mon temps”; “I am the only master of my time”

Weapon Of Choice by Susanna Kearsley

Hugh and Mary are travelling to Genoa on a mission for their king. En route, they encounter a storm and are forced to take shelter at Portofino. It is the year 1733 and the Jacobites are facing trouble in Rome and all the court of King James is under heavy guard. There are also other visitors in the inn, Anna and Edmund who have their own secrets to carry and who warns Hugh of an assassin called Douglas sent to murder the Duke of Ormonde, they are then joined by the captain Lambert Vautour and the assassin himself. As they wait out the storm, events begin to unfold in the small inn and the tale of La Sirène, a pocket watch made of solid gold, is introduced.

The story is quite intriguing with a feel of closed room mystery, with talks about the La Sirène’s curse that dooms every man that holds it, and the anticipation of having to divert the assassin’s attempt. There is a sense of something waiting to happen during the fearsome storm that is believed to be brought about by the curse and how Mary uses her skill to understand the murderer’s methods and helps in entrapping him makes for a very fascinating tale.

In a Fevered Hour by Anna Lee Huber

Edinburgh in 1831 is facing a crisis, hundreds have fallen ill to a mysterious illness and Bonnie Brock Kincaid a master criminal believes that the cause is La Sirène’s curse and seeks help from Lady Darby and her husband Sebastian Gage. Keira and Gage begin their inquiries and determine that a watch matching the La Sirène’s description is doing the rounds and if its not found in time, the whole of Edinburgh will be doomed.

The mystery behind the watch causing the illness was outstanding and how Kiera manages to find a part of the watch and bury it was quite brilliantly said.

A Pocketful of Death by Christine Trent

It is 1870 and Violet Harper who runs the Morgan Undertaking has been commissioned by the Ashenhurst family to move all dead relatives to the family cemetery. Unhappy about disturbing the dead but still forced to do the job, Violet discovers a part of La Sirène hidden in the grave and gives it to the family as an heirloom. A series of murders soon rocks the very peaceful and affluent street where the Ashenhurst reside and rumors of the cursed watch begin to do the rounds so much that is believed that the watch somehow portends the murder. Violet manages to discover the murderer and find a logical reasoning for the timepiece’s peculiar behavior but does the curse still hold?

Once again, a brilliant story that has taken the timepiece further into the years as we follow its cursed journey through centuries. How Violet uses her skill to discover the killer and find answers was interesting.

Siren’s Call by C.S Harris

The World War is still killing thousands in June 1944, but a sleepy and quiet out of the way village in Kent, New Godwick, has suddenly been noticed by the War office as mysterious transmissions in German has been discovered from the place. Jude Lowe from military intelligence along with Remus Stokes from Scotland Yard is on a trail of investigation when Major Crosby who serves as the enemy aircraft spotter is murdered and found by Rachel Townsend-Smythe. It is Rachel who brings Jude’s attention to the missing timepiece belonging to the vast collection of Major Crosby and thus the curse of La Sirène is resurrected.

German spies, murders in a small village, the devastation of war and even romance plays a part in this lovely cozy mystery.

I loved the anthology by these four brilliant authors, each novella adding to the mystique that is La Sirène. A pocket watch made with exquisite craftmanship from gold plundered from the holy city of Cartagena, the outer case engraved with a scene of ship in tempest and a beautiful inscription and balance cock engraved in the form of a mermaid, we follow the watch as the outer and inner case gets separated and each story adds to breaking of the curse of the watch.  It is the brilliance of the writing by these fantastic authors that I was actually sad after completing it, coz I just realized that even being a fan of historical mysteries, I have read only Susanna Kearsely and is yet to try all the other authors’. So much catching up to do with such beguiling characters like Violet Harper and Lady Darby.

Highly recommended!

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. 

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