Author provided a book for review.
I really enjoy reading Diener’s historical fictions and Dangerous Madness was no different. It is based in the same world as The Emperor’s Conspiracy and Banquet of Lies and I was happy to see some of the older characters return.
In Dangerous Madness, England’s Prime Minister is suddenly assassinated in the Parliament in broad daylight. The day before that happens, Phoebe Hillier’s fiancé, Sheldrake, breaks off their engagement and tells her that he’ll be leaving town as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Duke James Whittaker is contacted by Lord Dervish to investigate the murder of the Prime Minister and to see if the murderer was acting alone or if he had help. James and Phoebe find themselves helping each other when James learns of Sheldrake’s involvement and when there are two attempts to kill Phoebe. They start working together and try to make sense of what really happened.
As always, Diener seamlessly weaves historical events and persons with the fictitious ones, which makes for a very compelling read. What was really good about this book and also slightly different from other books in the same genre, was that there weren’t clues lying conveniently about, just waiting to be discovered. There was a real sense of frustration on the characters’ part when they hit one dead end after another. And when they did learn something, there was no evidence to back that up. It was one of the rare books, where there was no clear resolution. Bellingham was hanged and the real perpetrators, those that egged him on and made it possible for him to do what he did, did get away and didn’t have to answer for their part.
Dangerous Madness was a short book and a very quick read. I read it in one go; it was very difficult to put it aside. The pace of the narrative was quite fast throughout and there were times when I had to slow down to make sure that I didn’t miss something important. I couldn’t help but get caught up in the story and read fast to find out what would happen next. Her characters were beautifully realised and that is something Diener does consistently with pretty much all her books.
I really liked Phoebe and James. Phoebe was strong, bold and brave without being careless about her safety (as a lot of other heroines are, frustratingly so) But she also made it clear that she would not cower in her house, she would live her life on her own terms. Sheldrake did her the biggest favour possible when he broke off their engagement, it freed her from that oaf and made her realise that this was her life and therefore hers to live as she saw fit.
James was, in a lot of ways, quite similar to the other men in the Regency Series except that his public life was a carefully constructed façade. At the beginning of the book, he thinks he can finally rid himself of that life but when the Prime Minister is assassinated, he must go back to his old life, for a little while at least. What is most likeable about Diener’s heroes is that they aren’t threatened by a strong heroine. James was supportive of Phoebe. He was worried about her safety but he never forbade her from going where she wanted. He treated her like an equal.
It was good to see Giselle and Aldridge, Durnham and Dervish. Although, I missed Charlotte, it would’ve been nice to see her as well (she and Durnham remain my favourites) I was also sad that we did not see more of Georges. He was such a fun and entertaining character in Banquet of Lies, it would have been a delight to have more of him.
Dangerous Madness, was a quick and very satisfying read and I highly recommend it. It was entertaining and kept me guessing as to who could’ve been involved and in what capacity, just how far the conspiracy went. It was a great follow-up to the two earlier books and I would love to read more about these characters and their lives.
For now, I will eagerly wait for the next Parker and Susannah book, can’t wait to read more about those two.