Given two of my favorite genres include historical fiction and cozy mysteries, I expected to enjoy A Poisonous Journey, the first book in the Lady Evelyn series, written by Malia Zaidi in 2015. I was definitely thrilled with this book and pleasantly surprised to learn there were already 3 published in the series. What a great find for this enthusiast of history, detective stories, and charming characters set in foreign lands.
Lady Evelyn, a mid-20s former orphan (her parents died young and she was raised by a strict aunt) who escapes to Greece to visit her best friend and cousin, Briony, is the star of this caper. She’s intelligent, funny, kind, and open-minded, and those are just the surface traits worth mentioning… there’s so much more. Longing to find a purpose for her life, she settles in with her cousin and begins meeting many of the Greek neighbors and townspeople in 1920s Crete. When one of the group is found dead, the suspect list is at first empty, but as more comes to light on the deceased, it begins to grow larger and larger. Although she isn’t investigating the mystery, events unfold where she asks questions and thinks out loud to a few people, thus opening and closing doors as to who the possible culprit could be. When a few side stories (antiquities theft, romance, clandestine affairs, and secret pregnancies) begin to collide, Evelyn finds herself in the middle of it all with a dashing suitor willing to help find the answers.
Zaidi has created a very strong protagonist who jumps off the pages despite the century time difference between when the story was written and when it takes place. Among the language, setting and relationships, readers find charming connections and introspective thoughts about the beauty of life nearly 100 years ago. With no Internet, DNA or quick-n-easy access to get answers, she has to use deduction and behavior to understand what’s happening around her.
What appealed to me the most in this story is how although the mystery is front and center, the book is really a story about ‘a few weeks in the life of a character we can all identify with on some or multiple level(s).’ Whether she’s having a conversation with the maid, relaxing at a picnic with friends, or corresponding with her aunt to explain the rushed exit, I want more Lady Evelyn. Zaidi matches the style and tone of her word choice with the time period, the relaxed and casual setting with the quiet island life, and the descriptions with the lyrical flow of a single woman from a well-to-do family learning about real life outside her immediate circle of experience.
Many of the supporting characters are well-developed, too. They feel real and shine as either sounding boards or a pivotal and unwitting distributor of clues to Lady Evelyn. I felt a steady stream of low-key suspense (that’s exactly how this type of story was meant to be shared) that kept me turning the pages with keen interest in how it would all unfold. When a key ‘chase scene’ puts Evelyn in the line of dangerous fire, we worry despite knowing she’ll be okay in the end. Although the different sub-plots help direct the main one, they also stand on their own as key stories within the book to help build the world in which Evelyn resides. It’s part of the way Zaidi generates interest in each chapter, all leading to a very appropriate conclusion for what would likely have happened during this time period.
Kudos to the author for making quite a splash for me with this book. I look forward to reading the next book later this year!
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.