An Echo of Scandal

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 20 Jan 2020

Member Reviews

An Echo of Scandal by Laura Madeleine is packed full of mystery, intrigue, scandal and suspicion right from the opening few lines. This deep sense of needing to find answers, of uncovering secrets and solving the major enigma driving the story only deepens and increases the further you delve into the story. More specifically the more our main male protagonist Samuel Hackett begins to enquire and examine what teaser lays before him that could turn his fortunes around. If he can solve the riddle from the at first seemingly meaningless clues scattered through the city of Tangiers than maybe his last ditch attempt at writing a book won't be fruitless. Perhaps he won't have to return home to his family in America with his tail between his legs whilst attempting to ignore the comments of  'I told you so' or the looks that say I knew this would happen. There has been fifty years of silence but now the time is ripe for the full story to be told and for everything which seemed muddled and confused to hopefully make perfect sense.

From the opening few pages, the reader is sucked straight into the story and like the mystery at the heart of this book you are held in its grip until the very last page. Tangiers has lots to hide and there are still those who wish one of the greatest secrets of all to remain hidden and unspoken. Initially, Laura Madeleine takes us back in time to get to know the main female character Alejandra or Ale. It is 1928 and she has not had an easy life and has grown up in a hosteria in Cordoba, Spain having been left there as a baby. She has no mother figure in her life for the owner cannot be described in that way. She is the kitchen porter, the general dogsbody whom scant attention is paid to. But when she is taken under the cook's wing she learns all manner of recipes and ways to make the most of what is on offer in the market. But as an incident occurs and the blame is laid on Alejandra she is forced to flee and disappear. She changes her appearance and wants people to believe she is a man which leads her into some very tricky situations. The most tricky of all will be the one that defines the remainder of her life and whatever way she plays it will have devastating consequences. Ale becomes embroiled in a situation she has no control over as greater forces are at work.

Poor, destitute, homeless and on the run she finds herself attracted by the lure of  Tangiers across the Mediteranean Sea. Through means she wishes she never had to engage in she finds herself in the exciting, fragrant and foreign city which sets in motion a chain of events whose ripples will be felt for well over fifty years. I thought Ale was a strong and resilient character who through no fault of her own found herself in circumstances she stood no chance of turning to her advantage to prove her innocence. But maybe that was all meant to happen for the people she meets in Tangiers provide her with a different outlook on life. Englishman Arthur Langham is very much shrouded in secrecy. Both the man himself and his lifestyle seem to draw Ale in although she must not have either of her two major secrets revealed. As we move back and forth between 1928 and 1978 the reader attempts to establish connections although you can never can quite put your finger as to how the pieces of the puzzle may eventually connect. The tension, uncertainty and unease increase with every turn of the page and you question many times just what has Ale got herself involved in? Has she gone too deep into someone else's life attract by an aura of allurement? If she discovers the truth will it prove to be her downfall?

We follow Samuel in 1978 in a Tangiers that in some ways is very different from that of the city Ale knew in 1928 but in many others it has remarkably remained unchanged. Laura Madeleine excels at bringing the setting to life. The location is so enticing and the heat, colours,flavours, hustle and bustle all add to the sense of mystery. As the title says An Echo of Scandal and these echoes still reverberate through the many corners of the city. Laura is such a visual storyteller which really helps to capture your imagination and aids with getting to know Samuel better as he wanders the lanes, alleyways and hotspots of the city. The culture is described so richly and it seems like another time and place altogether. Samuel is a man down on his luck, struggling to pay rent or to even eat. He is on the verge of admitting defeat. His dreams of producing the great novel are about to be quashed. As he sells the last remaining item of any value, his typewriter, he ends up with a writing case in its place. A mystery has been dropped right into his lap for the contents within the case inspire Samuel to get writing but to also uncover the secrets behind what he has seen. He begins to retrace the steps of someone he does not know save for one lone initial. But the clues are all there scattered throughout the city. It's whether Samuel has the where with all and the perseverance to keep going to reach the ultimate destination?

Samuel was clever, insightful and had a creative and intuitive mind. At times you felt though was he just grasping at straws. You wonder given as we are also following Alejandra's story as well how do the two strands intertwine if ever? Samuel falls deeper and deeper into the mystery and wills himself on trying to establish who owned the case and why does he now feel as if he is being watched or even taunted? Will he uncover the truth or will it all be lies, lies and more lies. Someone wants the secret to remain that way. Has Samuel stirred up a hornets nest best left undisturbed? Or is it time for the full truth to finally emerge? Samuel was certainly brave in persisting when many doors appeared closed. Would it all prove to be much or will what he discovers transform his life forever?

An Echo of Scandal was an intriguing, interesting and absorbing read that even in the end left me wondering exactly what did happen. Maybe each reader will take something different from the ending. This is a story well worth the read and I look forward to seeing where Laura Madeleine transports us to next.
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I’m a huge fan of this author so I was hugely excited to discover she had a new book out and be invited onto the blog tour! This author never disappoints and I found I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful dual timeline mystery set in Tangier.

One of my favourite things about this author is the way she vividly described the scene so the reader feels like they are actually there, experiencing everything alongside the characters. I loved the descriptions of hot, bustling Tangier and the way of life there which has made me want to visit the country in the future. The descriptions of the wonderful food were equally brilliant and I often found my mouth watering as I read. There were some food I hadn’t heard of before and it was interesting to learn more about the food from Tangier.

This story gripped me from the start with its intriguing opening and hints at something not quite right. I enjoyed the gentle way the mystery unfolded and how real it seemed with no huge coincidences or strange connections. Instead the story unfolded at a great pace with lost of twists or revelations that kept me glued to the page. I found it hard to put this book down as I was so absorbed in the story and what I would discover.

I’ve read every book this author has written and in my opinion she keeps getting better and better. This book was slightly different from her previous books as it wasn’t based on real historical events ( I don’t think) but I still adored of and can’t wait to read more from her in the future.

Huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the blog tour and to Hannah Bright for my copy of this book. If you like absorbing dual timeline mysteries then you’ll love this book!
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I’m not sure what the best thing is about this novel - does the mystery entice as much as the location? It’s the story of a mystery writing satchel and its contents set in Tangier. Back in the 1970s, when writers wrote in houses with balconies and shutters, on typewriters and had satchels Maybe they still do, but you are transported back to that time where the authenticity of that time shimmers like the Moroccan desert.

The novel’s structure is particularly clever as this mystery deserves. Its twists and turns like a snake in the sand from one POV to another, from one direction to the next so you never really know where you are going to end up. And when that ending comes - the snake’s tongue of the story if you will - watch out!

We start off in Cordoba Spain, where a woman has to flee and so although there is only a fleeing glimpse of this place, the Hosteria Del Potro is hot, deadly and very memorable. That strong beginning sets the reader up for a lot more intrigue to come. And boy does it come.

…all the way to Tangier where we find the woman integrating herself into the life of a posh English gentleman, Arthur Langham. Fast forward to 1978 and we meet Samuel Hackett, a down on his luck writer who has a writing case with the intials A L on it. The mystery of the case and what lies within is deliciously unravelled and as you find out the links between the two stories, you can almost see and smell the writing case, feel it between your fingers as you search the pages for the truth as you read.  I was almost tempted to go out and buy a satchel when reading this - and an old fashioned typewriter too to be honest.

The twists and turns of Tangier add power to the twisty mystery and the idea of such a story taking place in the middle of the dusty desert makes you smile as you dust off the clues from this mystery.  I felt like that woman in the Galaxy chocolate advert - sinking into a world of indulgence and pure escapism reading this and would advise you to lock the door and turn off your phone to truly savour the Moroccan Moments.

Glorious and wonderfully written. I shall now sink into a chair and not move until this book’s magic has worn off. Which I suspect will be quite a while. I don’t want to read anything else to take me away from that satchel and Tangier.
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Brilliant read just could not put it down. From the very first page you are drawn in and just need to discover what will unfold next.
It has every ingredient you could wish for in a book intrigue love and a mystery that unfolds fifty years since it happened and even at the end you are left wondering what really did happen.
Can’t recommend it enough five stars all the way
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Oh Wow, I loved this book. The story was intriguing and exciting and while I wanted to get to the end to find out what happened I really didnt want it to be finished.  Would love to read more by Laura, could be a new favourite of mine.
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50 years apart two lives interweave and cross in this compelling and highly addictive novel. 

Cordoba, Spain, 1928 and the young Ale, short for Alejandra Esposito, is working in the kitchens of a brothel. However, the owner has plans for her that Ale resists. She is forced to flee to escape prison. Starving and penniless, a chance meeting at the border with a suave Englishman saves her. She escapes Spain, reinvents herself and starts a new life, this time as a young man with the name of  Alejandro del Potro. However, scandal, danger and intrigue follow her and she once again finds herself involved in a dangerous situation.

Tangier, Morocco, 1978 and Samuel Hackett is an American writer who has escaped his wealthy family and their plans for him  in order to make it as an author. Suffering from writer's block he is penniless and hungry  and forced to sell off his few remaining possessions. When his family finally refuse to support him financially anymore, he has no choice but to sell his prized typewriter ending up with an old writing case with the initials AL. Inside he finds clues to a mystery that he starts to uncover and which finally enables him to write again as he digs deeper and deeper in to the life of AL trying to establish who they were, what happened to them and whether they are still alive so they can give him the final answers to the mystery that he is desperately seeking.

The strands of the two lives interweave across time into a compelling and fascinating tale that I found impossible to put down. I enjoyed the captivating locations and felt transported to the streets of Tangier, walking there with Sam as he chased clues to unlock the mysteries of the writing case and the elusive AL,  finally writing the novel he had come to Tangier to write.

Having read Madeleine's three previous books I am a fan and was delighted to receive an eARC of An Echo of Scandal from NetGalley. This fourth novel further cements Madeleine's reputation as a bestselling writer of compelling historical fiction. Highly recommended. 5 stars.

#AnEchoOfScandal #NetGalley
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Thanks to netgalley for an early copy in return for an honest review 
Fabulous  historical  saga that I found intriguing  and captivating  can highly recommend.
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This is historical fiction at its absolute best 
This book is cleverly written and multi layered
The characters come to life on the pages. 
This is a must read
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Really enjoyed this novel. Excellent storyline build up and fascinating characters bring this story to life. I will definitely reading more books by this talented author.
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Historical fiction at its very best. As the heat shimmers off the pages, travel back in time to a mystery as exotic as its location.

Set in two different times, told by two very different points of view, it takes us down two different paths, paths that ultimately end up crossing in ways that are both as unexpected as they are satisfactory.

Tangier, 1978 – Samuel Hackett, a down on his luck writer, living hand to mouth as he takes in the local culture whilst waiting for inspiration to strike. As luck would have it, fate steps in and hands him a real life mystery in the form of an old fashioned leather writing case. Needing money fast to pay his rent, his only option is to sell his prized possession, his Hermes typewriter, to his friend and shop owner, Abdelhamid, and it was this friend that sold him the writing case. From that case the only clues he has to go on are the initials A.L that are engraved on the case, a small silver key and a leather tag, both of which were tucked away inside the case and the 50 year old calendar also contained within. With some help from his local friends and a new associate, an English journalist, Ellis Norton, he starts to investigate who the case belonged to, and as he begins to uncover details it fires up his imagination, turning the case and the cases owner into a novel of his own.

1928 –  Alejandra Exposita, Ale for short, a young kitchen porter, apprentice chef lives and works at the Hosteria del Potro, doing everything in her power to blend into the background. The other women that work there are paid for more than just serving drinks, so being a young, female virgin is not something she wants the punters to notice. Although life mightn’t be ideal at least she has a roof over her head and food in her belly making her more fortunate than some. That is until one evening an incident occurs at the hotel leaving one of the male customers dead at the hands of the owners daughter. With the finger of blame pointed to her she has no choice but to disappear. Disguising herself as a man, a haircut and change of name, Alejandra is reborn as Alejandro del Potro. And after an encounter with a well healed English gentleman, Arthur Langham, Ale follows him across the boarder and manages to instal herself into his life with a surprising outcome.

As the story switches between Ale and Sam, they take us on their own personal journeys and as each situation plays out it becomes apparent that their stories are interwoven with some surprising turns of events, of which keep you in the dark right up until the very last pages. This is a clever, complex, multi layered historical mystery with characters that come to life off the pages, you can feel the heat simmering as you are transported all the way to Tangier and the unlocking of the mystery surrounding the 50 year old writing case.

This is a must read for fans of historical suspenses, historical romances, women’s fiction or fans of really great stories! So in essence, for everyone!

An Echo of Scandal will be published on 19 Sep 2019 and is available for pre-order now

A massive thank you to the author Laura Madeleine, publishers Random House UK, Transworld Publishers and NetGalley for my copy of this book in exchange for an honest and independent review.
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