Book Review: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly ****

UK Publication Date: 27 Oct 2015. 496 pages.

I rarely read period dramas, unless they were written in the time that they are set. Think Wilkie Collins or Dickens and you are along the right lines. Modern day versions of these books tend towards the melodramatic and I normally find that pretty tedious.

These Shallow Graves is different to the normal fare. Jennifer Donnelly has created characters that leap off the page and that actually engage the reader. Josephine Montfort is a young lady in 1890s New York. She lives in a nice house and her aristocrat father has just been found dead in controversial circumstances. Her uncle has managed to keep the details out of the papers and the idea that it could have been suicide.

The feisty Josephine leaves the house to deliver bequests to some of her fathers employees and ends up at the offices of The Standard where she overhears the news boys talking about her father’s suicide and how the editor and the police were paid off by her uncle. She is incensed but it starts her thinking and pretty soon she and Eddie Gallagher from the paper are on the trail of what really happened to her father and later his business associates.

Jo is a fun character trying hard to behave in the manner expected of her but also gently challenging and bypassing outdated conventions of ladylike behaviour. Her associations with the young journalist lead her to query her expected betrothal to the nice but dim Abraham and their entirely platonic relationship.

It is quite a meaty book with some good twists and turns. Some that I had figured out but quite a few that were unexpected. It is a fun and engaging read and I’m very happy to recommend it further.

Supplied by Net Galley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

You can get the book here: These Shallow Graves

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