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Ten Lords A-Leaping by C. C. Benison
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I wanted to like this book. It was not the first book in the series, so I hoped it would be over the hurdle of introducing too much backstory. The second book in the series held my interest and juggled the various threads of past and present. And this one, the third book, featured my favourite CC Benison character, Jane Bee (now Jane Allan, Lady Kirkbride). But this book was a slog. It was 500 pages and could have done with some editing, especially of the repetitive references to "the incident last year where the girl died in the drum" (cf. Twelve Drummers Drumming) and statements to the effect of "Tom noticed that the sky was blue" instead of just saying "The sky was blue". And Jane Bee herself seemed to lack the spark that I remember from her Her Majesty Investigates series. Perhaps this was because I wasn't in her head with that first-person narration I enjoy so much. Instead, she spent what felt like a long time providing expository family background dialogue and commenting about her Canadian background. This includes a possible continuity error: Jane mentions waiting tables at a lobster restaurant in Charlottetown, but in the Bee books, the only restaurant experience I recall her mentioning was Marilla's Pizza. She may have worked at others, but the pizza place was by far more memorable (and is funnier).

To be fair, once Jane became involved in the investigation, she was a bit more like her old self, but it wasn't enough. What I really need is a series about her occasional discreet enquiries run out of a small agency on Kingly Street, which she tells Tom that she maintains in between running her children to their various extracurricular activities. It might tread the same sort of ground as Rhys Bowen, but if it's Jane Bee I would be all over it. It would have to be first person though and feature cameos by Andrew Macgreevy, as this book also did (and which nearly made me giggle out loud on the bus).

As for the non-Bee-related aspects of the story, I found the tangle of lords and ladies confusing and everyone sounded the same. Twice I nearly abandoned the book unfinished, but I persevered because I did not want to let Jane down. And I didn't, but I would love to see more of her on her own solving mysteries. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Dec 23, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I selected this book through Early Reviewers because my mom had read the first two and really liked them, and I really love the Her Majesty Investigates series by the same author. Big mistake. Neither of us finished this one. It is a definite dud. Too many characters, a plot that is all over the place (and the book doesn't match the title, that event is just a footnote) - much too long and badly in need of editing! Book uses strong language for those that are bothered by that. ( )
  Quiltingdragon | Oct 19, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Ten Lords A-Leaping has all the ingredients for a classic English mystery - a church fete, a manor house, a house party of mis-matched personalities, and a relateable series protagonist. It also has an awful lot of words.

Tom Christmas, vicar of Thornfield Regis, widower, and father of ten-year-old Miranda has a decided tendency to be nearby when murder is committed. (Otherwise there would be no series, would there?) In this book, he sprains his ankle during a daring church fundraiser, which necessitates his spending the night as a house guest at Eggescombe Manor - along with a hodge-podge of invited and uninvited family members. When one of the most dislikable members of the family is murdered, Tom's stay is extended until the murder is solved.

There were some aspects of the story I found trying. The family relationships were convoluted. This was obviously by design but it did require a lot flipping back to the front of the book, trying to figure out the family tree included there. Knowledge of the iniquities of the murderee piled up so much after he was dead that it was quite amazing that he wasn't in jail for something already. And with Tom Christmas being a vicar, a certain amount of sermonizing crept in, sometimes rather awkwardly.

Although there were several times I was brought out of the story thinking "really?", they weren't enough to make put the book down. I've read an earlier book in the series and I believe this series has promise. I'll be checking out another one. ( )
  margitc | Jan 10, 2015 |
slow going, fractured segments, uninteresting characters. Not nearly as fun as the earlier ones in the series. very disappointing. ( )
  tututhefirst | Jan 7, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I am putting this book on my did not finish list due to objectionable language and subject matter. I recently read another reviewer's take on this book, and she had some of the same problems I did. However, she really liked the first 2 books in the series. So I guess this one is just not my cup of tea. May try to read it in the future, but for now, it is back on the shelf.
  vintagebeckie | Jan 5, 2015 |
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For the Earl and Countess of Orkney, for many years of friendship and hot dinners.
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6 August

Dear Mum,

Short note this morning as it's the big day!
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385344473, Hardcover)

The delightful Father Tom Christmas returns, and the cozy hamlet of Thornford Regis comes to life, in C. C. Benison’s witty, beautifully written series that is “a must-read for lovers of classic English mysteries” (Kirkus Reviews).
 
Although Father Tom Christmas serves his little church in enchanting Thornford Regis with a glad and faithful heart, he never expects to find himself skydiving to raise money for it. Nor, safely back on the ground, to see two of the other divers leap from the plane, then tangle in a midair punch-up and begin falling to the earth.
 
To say that there is tension between the men in question—Oliver, the 7th Marquess of Morborne, and his brother-in-law Hector, the 10th Earl of Fairhaven—would be an understatement. But the trouble among this ancient landed family really began a generation ago, when a marquess divorced his first spouse to marry his brother’s wife, fathering in his two marriages a viper’s nest of arrogant young aristocrats. Now they have all turned up for the show to witness this shocking event in the sky.
 
Thankfully the men land safely, but death will not be slighted. Much to Father Tom’s dismay, he later discovers Lord Morborne lying deceased on castle grounds. Rumors of bigamy, art forgeries, and upstairs/downstairs intrigue fly. So do whispers of unvicarly behavior between Tom and Oliver’s beautiful half-sister, Lady Lucinda. In fact, the vicar may be headed for a very hard landing of his own.
 
C. C. Benison gives a virtuoso performance in this gripping new puzzle, a compelling and wise holiday mystery with the irresistible allure of hot tea and warm scones on a cold winter’s day.
 
Praise for C. C. Benison’s Father Christmas mysteries
 
Twelve Drummers Drumming
 
“A crime novel that Agatha Christie might have been justly proud to claim as her own.”—Margaret Maron
 
“Benison does an admirable job balancing humor with suspense. . . . Father Christmas’s first case leaves you eager for his next.”The Wall Street Journal
 
“Splendid . . . an intelligent and empathic protagonist and skillful prose make this a winner.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
Eleven Pipers Piping
 
“Benison uses the claustrophobia of village life to great effect, making the series a psychologically astute pleasure for fans of traditional cozies.”The Washington Post
 
“Smashingly clever . . . Readers will be crazy about this vicar.”Library Journal
 
“A great whodunit in the best British tradition.”The Globe and Mail

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:03 -0400)

When a skydiving routine for charity results in the death of Hector, Earl of Fairhaven, Father Tom Christmas, investigating the case on behalf of Hector's family who believe that his death was no accident, must come to terms with the secrets of his own past to solve the mystery.… (more)

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