Plot: Musgrave takes a deep dive into 1887 in this extensively researched novel. Taking the issues of the time—race and politics—he has created a probable piece of fiction based on the time period. Historically accurate, the author has written an intriguing mystery that unfolds at an even pace. The strategy the author uses to introduce each of the suspects lures the reader into the mystery. Because these issues still exist today, this multilayered plot feels modern and helps the reader understand how these issues endure.
Prose/Style: Descriptive vocabulary and meticulously chosen words are true to the time period and lend the characters depth and a distinct image. Describing clothing as “britches” or “frocks” helps pull the reader into the time period and understand the class system of the era.
Originality: The author has creatively finessed the perfect blend of history and fiction putting the characters in a situation that truly could have taken place. Focusing on a small time period and changing setting by chapter keeps the reader engaged.
Character Development/Execution: The characters feel relatable and modern yet fit the time period. The common character throughout the series is clever despite her track record for defending her suspects. The variable types of characters are well-developed and grow throughout the story. The reader is not sure who to trust throughout the story, thus making the narrative more engaging.
Date Submitted: July 02, 2021
Explore late 19th Century life in our nation’s capital in this intriguing mystery. Grover Cleveland and his young wife are intricately involved in the plot. When a young woman stabs to death a Supreme Court nominee and waits to watch him die, the intrigue expands.
Clara Shortridge Foltz is chosen to defend the killer who is caught red-handed with her hand on the knife. Immediately the question of why comes to mind: Clara is described as a three-time loser in defending clients. Should be an open and shut case then, right?
Add in other historical figures from this time period including the Divine Ms. Sarah Bernhardt and Susan B. Anthony and the narrative becomes a political basketball.
Enjoy a ride through the Suffragette movement, the kidnapping of a President’s wife and a sinister plot to destroy evidence and the defendants, and you have a real page-turner. Washington, DC during this time period was certainly not a place you would want to live!
The characters are well developed and exhibit independence of character clearly missing in many women of that time period. They are looked down upon by most of the males in this book. Washington DC is described as a place where a negro needed to go if they wanted to succeed. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is declaring some legislation unconstitutional to reverse desegregation legislation during the post-civil war era.
The end product is a microcosm of the problems facing the population during that time period. Many of those problems still linger today but it is a pleasure to revisit that era and reinspect the issues.
We received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley in anticipation of an honest review and these are my independent opinions. 5/5 stars CE Williams
Musgrave pens a remarkable story in The Angel's Trumpet. I've been honored to be able to enjoy this author's Portia of the Pacific Mysteries series. This one is book 4. This story is a credit to the series, and of course, it's written well. The characters just fit within the story and bring 1887 to life. I love a good historical novel, and this brings a lot more than just probable history, it brings a thrilling and original storyline that keeps this reader, hooked. I look forward to reading more by this author. This book is definitely recommended by Amy's Bookshelf Reviews.
"James Musgrave's The Angel's Trumpet is one of those rare historical mysteries that is both entirely plausible and yet truly original. A richly researched adventure into the complex social web of Gilded Age Washington, featuring deeply-realized and re-imagined luminaries including actress Sarah Bernhardt and President and Mrs. Cleveland, the novel is also surprisingly modern in its sensibilities, a compelling romp into an earlier era's struggle with addiction and vice and secrecy and race relations, and, most of all, hidden sources of power. You will read this book in one sitting--and you will be very glad that you did. A meticulously-plotted gem from a master of the genre."
"I really like this novel. The way Musgrave weaves together real life characters in fictional settings reminds me of Ragtime. I think in this novel in the series he comes closest to recreating the period of Reconstruction. I am able to visualize in my mind Washington DC of the late 19th century, a period that laid the foundation of the Jim Crow era. My favorite character is Sarah Bernhardt. Musgrave is able to peel away the trappings of fame and fortune that embodied this period to reveal not only a skilled actress but a very vulnerable and maternal figure. She is David's 'real mother.' I think readers will readily see the parallels the Gilded Age have with our plutocratic riddled world today and white nationalism. Musgrave really is an amazing writer."
"The Angel's Trumpet has as many twists and turns as an Alpine highway, and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. The story, set in Washington D. C. during the Grover Cleveland administration, provides a marvelous insight into the societal interaction of the times as well as the interactions between the races. The characters are intense and the action riveting. It's one of those books that when you pick it up you can't put it down until you've finished it."