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Deadly Hours contains four novellas by four exceptional authors. Each tale deals with the curse placed on gold stolen from a church in 1697. Some of that gold is made into a beautiful watch called La Sirene. Each person who owns the watch, even temporarily, comes to a terrible end. The stories take you from the watch’s creation to its final destruction a couple of centuries later. Or, is it really destroyed and the curse broken???? Two of the authors are longtime favorites of mine – Anna Lee Huber and C.S. Harris and I couldn’t wait to read their contributions. I haven’t read Susanna Kearsley nor Christine Trent, so I was anxious to give some potential new favorites a try.

The stories are in chronological order, so be sure to read them in the order they appear in the book. Skipping around only confuses the timeline – I speak from experience there.

While each of the stories was good, well-written, and well-delivered, the whole just didn’t catch my imagination. I think part of that was that I wanted to know more about each set of characters and the size constraints just didn’t allow for that.

Weapon of Choice by Susanna Kearsley – 4 Stars

February 1733 (with tales dating to 1697)

Oh! We have pirates, Jacobites, assassins, and a cursed timepiece all trapped together during a raging storm. What could possibly go wrong there? I think this might have been my favorite of the four stories because it was fast-paced and the characters were very interesting.

Three different ships, all bound for the same place, but from different origination points, are all caught in a horrendous, unnatural storm. All three ships make it to the same port and the passengers have to stay at the same Inn. One ship carries an assassin who is looking to assassinate The Duke of Ormonde, a staunch supporter, and advisor to the king. One ship carries a staunch Jacobite and protector of the king and the Duke. One ship, oops, carries the Duke himself.

The pirate captain carried an unusual timepiece that seemed to strike fear into the heart of another captain. Why? The timepiece was named La Sirene and it had quite a history – which the captain gladly shares. Then – when murder happens …

This was a really good read and an exciting way to start the tale of La Sirene.

In A Fevered Hour by Anna Lee Huber – 4-Stars

May 1831

I THINK this would be book 4.75 or so in the Lady Darby series because it takes place two weeks after the wedding and before they take off for their honeymoon in the Lake District. You can read this story without reading the Lady Darby series, but it is a really good series if you care to read it.

Keira and Gage are spending a quiet evening at home when Bonnie Brock Kincaid comes knocking on their door – highly distraught. That is highly unusual for the normally cool and aloof Brock. He tells his tale of a cursed watch bringing down his family and all of Old Town Edinburgh. OH! Curses!

Keira and Gage don’t believe anything about cursed timepieces, but when Brock collapses on the floor with some strange malady they immediately think he might have been poisoned. After sending for a doctor and learning that a strange illness is decimating Old Town Edinburg they have to wonder – and investigate.

Can they solve the mystery, find and destroy the timepiece before all of Edinburg is wiped out? Will Brock survive? You’ll just have to read this excellently crafted novella to find out. It is well worth your time.

A Pocketful of Death by Christine Trent – 4 Stars

March 1870

La Sirene resurfaces again when a newly minted Viscount begins to have all of his relatives disinterred and reburied in a new family plot. Inside a grave, the undertaker handling the removals and reburials finds a lovely and expensive watch wrapped within a pair of gloves. Believing that it must belong to the family of the deceased, she takes it to the Viscount.

Strange occurrences begin within the exclusive Mayfair neighborhood – a murder, then another, then another. Some blame the newly found watch. Some blame a madman. Either way, the undertaker, Violet Harper, being the curious sort, begins asking questions. (Note – Violet Harper is from this author’s Lady of Ashes series.) The more questions she asks, the more confusing the circumstances – there are almost no commonalities among the victims other than they live within the same neighborhood. Yet, La Sirene stops working one hour prior to each death. What does this cursed watch have to do with the deaths?

This was an excellently written story, but it was my least favorite of the four. It seemed to be more slow-moving and plodding than the other stories. As I said, well-written, but it just didn’t catch my imagination.

Siren’s Call by C.S. Harris – 4 Stars

June 1944

There is a German spy and a murderer loose in the small English village of New Godwick. Are they one and the same? What do they want? The murderer’s first victim is a lovely old man who is an antiquarian with a vast collection of valuable antiques. One of his most cherished items is missing. That item? A case for a cursed timepiece called La Sirene. Did it contain clues to the location of the timepiece itself?

More deaths and mysterious radio broadcasts to Germany keep MI5 – and a local miss – busy investigating. With Hitler and his henchmen’s interest in all things occult, it is no surprise that they might be looking for La Sirene. Will the spy find it and get it to Hitler? Will our English detectives discover them and retrieve La Sirene? Will the curse end? You’ll just have to read to see. ( )
  BarbaraRogers | Sep 20, 2020 |

Four fabulous historical mystery writers have banded together to beguile us with the ominous story of a gold pocket watch. A mesmerizing piece with a siren engraved on it. Down through the ages it has garnered the name, La Sirène. This legendary object made from cursed gold can apparently affect many things including the weather. Greed, obsessiveness, maleficence and death on both a narrow and wide scale follow in its wake.
It was reputedly "first cursed by God when French buccaneers stole the gold from the holy altars as they sacked the city of Cartagena.” Doom is it's stamp.
There was so much packed into these novellas. Each was a sleek and deep read, with an overlay of the Gothic. I was entranced! I just loved the atmosphere and tension each writer brings to the overall premise. Characters we know from their novels are called to deal with the watch and its impact within their historical time frame. Each sequence adds a satisfying revelation about the watch as our known and loved characters battle La Sirène's cursed impact.
The miasma of evil hangs heavy and only the courage and intelligence of our beloved proponents are able to banish it from their time.
This had everything one could wish to make it a startling and satisfying read.

A Poisoned Pen ARC via NetGalley
Please note: Quotes taken from an advanced reading copy maybe subject to change ( )
  eyes.2c | Sep 1, 2020 |
Billed as an anthology, at its center is a cursed pocket watch of unimaginable beauty and workmanship. Is it cursed or are the people coveting it just that evil or ill fated? Do they deserve ownership and thereby whatever may befall them? Spanning several centuries from February 10, 1733 to the Second World War, each of the four novellas weaves a mysterious tale with historical accuracy. Portofino, Italy where an assassin is trying to make his way to Rome and the deposed King James, then Scotland, Greyfriars Kirkyard and the spotted typhus outbreak of the 1830s, then handed off to a female undertaker in 1870 at the same Kirkyard and finally to Kent England in 1944; all linked through the centuries by La Sirene, a watch which must pass through the four elements of the earth before it can be laid to rest where it can do no further harm.

I enjoyed the collaboration of these talented writers and each of their novellas rendering one complete story. Well done. Thank you NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for a copy. ( )
  kimkimkim | Aug 31, 2020 |
Four interconnected stories trace the journey of a cursed and priceless watch from 1733 to 1944. From Italy to Scotland to England, the watch touches each of its owners with misfortune.

Readers first see the watch, called La Sirène by its French pirate owner, in Susanna Kearsley's "Weapon of Choice," my pick of the stories. The travels continue in 1831's Edinburgh in Anna Lee Huber's "In a Fevered Hour" then Christine Trent's "A Pocketful of Death" finds readers in the streets of London during a series of chilling murders. The anthology ends with C.S. Harris's "Siren's Call" in 1944.

The owners were told what needed to be done in order to break the curse, but you know what happens when someone possesses something, rare, priceless, and beautiful. From the description of the timepiece, I would have had a difficult time parting with it myself.

I enjoyed seeing how these four authors took an idea and ran with it. The only thing I didn't particularly care for was the acknowledgments at the end of each story. They were repetitive and really intruded on the flow of the story. It would have been much better if they'd all been relegated to the end of the book.

(Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Net Galley) ( )
  cathyskye | Aug 28, 2020 |
This is a collection of four novellas by well-known authors of historical mysteries all featuring a cursed pocket watch.

In "Weapon of Choice" by Susanna Kearsley, the pocket watch finds itself in a supporting role in a plot to murder a relative of the exiled King James. The story is also a romance between recently married Hugh MacPherson and Mary Dundas who are apparently characters featured in another of the author's stories.

"In a Fevered Hour" by Anna Lee Huber moves the story one hundred years to 1831 and brings the cursed watch to Edinburgh where Lady Darby and her new husband Simon Gage are tasked with finding it by Bonnie Brock Kincaid since it seems to be causing problems for him.

"A Pocket Full of Death" by Christine Trent takes place in 1870 where Violet Harper is an undertaker who is reburying a newly made Viscount's ancestors into a new family graveyard and discovers the pocket watch in the grave of the man being moved.

"Siren's Call" by C. S. Harris moves the story to 1944 and brings the story of the cursed watch to a conclusion. It also tells the story of life in wartime Britain and the search for possible German spies. There is also a romance in this one.

I enjoyed all of the stories but liked "Weapon of Choice" the least probably because I felt like I should have known more about the main characters in the story. I've solved that one by purchasing A Desperate Fortune which tells the fuller story of those characters. I liked "Siren's Call" the best both because of the time period and because of the strength of the mystery. ( )
  kmartin802 | Aug 17, 2020 |
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Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Susanna Kearsleyprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Harris, C.S.huvudförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Huber, Anna Leehuvudförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Trent, Christinehuvudförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
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