Deception–Amanda Quick

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This is one of my favorite of her books. Amanda Quick does historical romances.

In this one, we have Olympia Wingfield, a bluestocking trying to raise her three orphaned nephews. Jared Chillhurst is a viscount who is after a family diary that Olympia’s father has sent to her.

His initial plan was to offer to buy the diary, once she decodes it. However, when he saw the chaos in the household, he decided to take a more personal approach to the project. He announces that her dad has hired him as a tutor for the boys and quickly proves to be an excellent tutor and brings her entire household into order.

When she decides to take the family to London, disaster inevitably strikes when people discover them living in the same home and they are forced to announce their marriage and then get married to make it true.

She is not pleased with his large amount of deception, but she does love him. He loves her too, and protects her from the various threats that face them. She does in the end translate the diary, make peace with a longstanding family feud, and sends the most annoying members of the family off on a travel trip to find an ancient buried treasure.

This is a charming book, as indeed are all of Amanda Quick’s romances.

The Perfect Poison–Amanda Quick

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I love these books. Amanda Quick does, in my opinion, the best historical romances with a touch of mystery. I appreciate the mysteries because it gives the story some bite, beyond just plain romance.

In this one, we enter into a bit of a crossover situation. The author has a series under the name Jayne Castle, which are futuristic and paranormal. This book is a historical romance but part of a series with paranormal aspects.

In this case, Lucinda Bromley is a gifted (psychically gifted) botantist and has recognized a rare fern that was stolen from her conservatory in a deadly poison. She teams up with Caleb Jones, who runs the detective agency for the psychical society and they track the poisoner, who is well known to the psychical society for various other unpleasant crimes.

It appears as though he is trying to create the “founder’s formula” which is a potion that should enhance and increase the psychical abilities of the person who takes it. Unfortunately the problem is that the founders formula, in every iteration, works briefly and then works as a poison, driving people crazy before killing them.

So it’s a bit of a race against time. The poison creator is working for some richer men, who are using their psychic powers to kill people and as they get more crazy from the formula, they will become exponentially more dangerous.

Meanwhile, sparks are flying between Lucinda and Caleb.

This is an enjoyable book. I recommend it.

The Last Victim–Jason Moss

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This book made me a little queasy.

John Wayne Gacy always does, but this was especially awful.

In this book, the author, Jason Moss, as a freshman in college, decides to do his independent project on serial killers, and so he starts writing letters to serial killers. He designs each one to appeal to each killer specifically and got some good responses.

He started with Gacy, but he also wrote to Manson, Ramirez (the night stalker) and Dahmer.

In the end, Gacy was taking up so much time he had to let the other ones languish for a bit. Gacy was sending him letters every day. He was calling him frequently. He was sending him money and presents.

Finally, Gacy invites Moss to come spend three days visiting him. You would think a serial killer on death row would have a very secure visiting situation but apparently not so much at that location and time. Gacy would bribe the guards for privacy. Moss was alone in the cell with Gacy, Gacy was touching him, exposing himself, threatening to rape and murder him, the entire gamut of awful things.

Moss made it two days out of the three.

He had nightmares for a long time afterwards, even (especially) after Gacy was executed.

In the book he talks extensively about wanting to work for the FBI, maybe as a profiler, and that this is part of his attempt to show them he’s good. Naturally, I wondered if he did make it to the FBI, so I googled him.

He did not. He became a defense attorney. And he killed himself at the age of 31. I can’t help but wonder how much Gacy factored into that. He set himself up like a victim to lure Gacy, but did he actually become the last victim of Gacy’s murderous insanity? I don’t know, but it’s distressing and disturbing regardless.

I don’t really want to recommend this book. It’s interesting but so sad. So creepy. If that’s your thing, maybe this is a good choice. Otherwise maybe not. I’m not squeamish–I read true crime, I listen to true crime podcasts, I watch true crime documentaries, I can even look at the crime scene photos without too much of an issue (mostly) but this, despite not being that graphic, was just so disturbing to me.