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The Crimson Rooms
The Crimson Rooms by Katherine McMahon
by Katherine McMahon

In 1924 London, Evelyn Gifford's awakens from a nightmare about her brother James who died in the Great War.  That very night, a nurse, Meredith, comes to the door claiming that her six-year old son was fathered by James shortly before he died.  Although Edmund looks so much like James, Evelyn is not quite sure she trusts Meredith.  What are her motives?  As a struggling attorney in a world that doesn't quite accept women lawyers, Evelyn must now support the rest of her family.  When Daniel Breen takes her on as his clerk, she sets about to help a downtrodden woman, Leah Marchant, gain custody of her children.  Also, soldier Simon Wheeler has been accused of killing his wife, Stella.  His case seems hopeless, but nevertheless, Evelyn sets out to investigate.   Handsome barrister Nicholas Thorne takes an interest in her career.  Although Nicholas is already engaged to Sylvia Hardynge, Evelyn finds herself attracted to him and to make matters more complicated, the attraction seems reciprocated.  Will Evelyn be able to solve the mysteries before her, not only the truth behind Stella's murder but also the motivations of Meredith?  Will she be able to help Leah when the system seems stacked against her.  Will Evelyn find romance with Nicholas Thorne?

Katherine McMahon's THE CRIMSON ROOMS is a book that grabs a reader from the beginning with an intriguing mystery, but the mystery doesn't stop there.  Each situation presents a kind of mystery of its own, all seamlessly interwoven within the story. Even Leah's case, a case which gives insight into the historical period and its institutions, develops into a mystery as Evelyn wades through all the layers of society from the law to charity that separate Leah from her children.  THE CRIMSON ROOMS integrates period history within the story without distracting from the characters and storyline.  THE CRIMSON ROOMS presents a portrait of many different sides of post-WWI society, from the wealthy world of Nicholas Thorne to the less fortunate Leah, from the soldier and nurse to women struggling to make ends meet.  Evelyn Gifford is a delightful character as are the characters who surround her.  Unexperienced in love, her account of her feelings Nicholas Thorne has charm and freshness.  Nevertheless, Evelyn is a woman with quite a lot of determination, not only in her choice of profession, but in her dedication to do all she can for her clients.  Above all, she is a woman who grows throughout the story. 

THE CRIMSON ROOMS has everything --- history, mystery and a bit of romance --- to make for great cover to cover reading.  Once a reader enters into the world of Evelyn Gifford, the story itself and the characters are so memorable, that one easily re-enters the story from reading to reading. 
THE CRIMSON ROOMS  is a great book to keep on the bedside table, but once begun, a reader might find oneself stealing more reading time.  THE CRIMSON ROOMS is more a great story set in a historical period than history told through fiction.  Historical details are accurate and give much insight into the period.  Readers who like a good mystery will find several intriguing mysteries within the story, and yet, the development of the mysteries flow fluently from the story itself.  Katherine McMahon is a superb storyteller!

Publisher: Berkley Trade Paperback (January 4, 2011)
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Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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