Kenneth Cameron :- Winter at Deaths Hotel

Kenneth Cameron is the author or co-author of more than thirty books, including historical novels and novels of espionage, a critical history of the African safari, and an award-winning analysis of films about Africa. He lives most of the year in the woods of New York State’s Adirondacks.

Winter at Deaths Hotel (From back of book)
New York, January 1896. Arthur Conan Doyle, the renowned creator of Sherlock Holmes, arrives at the Britannic Hotel with his wife, Louisa, ready to begin his first American tour. While he prepares his lectures, Louisa becomes mesmerised by this brash, vibrant, dangerous city, especially when a woman’s brutally butchered corpse is found in a Bowery alley and Louisa is convinced from the artist’s sketch in the paper that she’d seen the victim at the hotel. Arthur is patronisingly sceptical about her womanly ‘fantasies’ but when she sprains her ankle and is forced to remain at the hotel while Arthur goes on tour, Louisa cannot resist pursuing her intuitions. And when more bodies start appearing, she’s convinced that she holds the key to the killings. With the help of the hotel’s hard-bitten detective and an ambitious female news reporter, Louisa starts to piece together a story of madness, murder and depravity – a story that leads inexorably back to the hotel itself, the strange story of its unique construction and a madman who is watching her every move.
When i first got my hands on this book (as usual i avoided a book synopsis) i had caught a glimpse of the words Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle, i felt sure i was in for a book on Holmes and Doyle maybe similar to the Sherlockian, only with Kenneth Cameron’s brilliant attention to detail and ability to transport the reader to the late 1890’s.
But to my utter reader horror it wasn’t, it was about his wife, a man writing from the perspective of a woman, it never works, men just know how to write from a woman’s perspective and it always shows, or at least in any book i have read, so 2 chapters in i was worried, but as i read on it became obvious that Kenneth could not only write from that perspective, but could also write as a woman from 1896, it was stunning to read, the book could have carried on about knitting patterns it was so well written in that style.
It didn’t what it did do was take me on a tour of old new york, a new york being born into the great city it is now, riddled with corruption but with a Teddy Roosevelt at the start of his Civil career, we learn how hard it is for a woman in what is the Mans world of 1896, even an American world with all its extra freedom from european traditional decorum and manners that hinders any thought of breaking out of the “little woman” model, we see some of the fight for womens rights and the 2nd class status a wife could be treated with.
If i had to sum this book up it would be: This is not a book in a genre i would normally buy, and not normally a style i would buy, i don’t like horrific crime books. But if this is an example of the books in this genre then i need to find more. I fear its not a standard example. This is an example of just how well Kenneth Cameron writes, I have seen as much in “The Frightened Man”, “The Second Woman” & “The Bohemian Girl” three books in the simply brilliantly written Denton Series.
Would i recommend this book? without the slightest doubt and very highly recommended at that.

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Filed under Crime, Historical Fiction

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