Cover Image: And By Fire

And By Fire

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Member Reviews

Such a great read. I could not put it down. The characters drew me in. Great book. Cannot wait to read more by this author.
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Story of the book-

This mystery is ideal for lovers of Sarah Penner and Dan Brown. Two amazing female investigators, tempered by fire and separated by centuries, seek a pair of homicidal geniuses who will burn the globe for their art. Nigella Parker, a Detective Inspector of the City Police, is gifted at investigating fatal arson crimes despite having a deep-seated phobia of fire. A burned body is discovered curled up next to Sir Christopher Wren’s Monument to the Great Fire of London, and Nigella is thrust into a case where she must defend herself against a vicious sculptor who makes sculptures out of burnt human flesh.

Nigella works with Colm O’Leary of Scotland Yard to hunt the arsonist across Greater London. Before O’Leary made the error of saying three small words, the two were more than just coworkers; they were lovers. As they scramble to make connections between an old nail taken from a dead man’s hands and a long-forgotten architect overshadowed by Sir Christopher Wren’s life’s work, they discover that their past isn’t the only hidden history.

Everywhere the two look, they see works by one of London’s most renowned architects, Wren. The DCIs enter the coldest of cold cases after researching his legacy and starting a quest for a bookseller who vanished during the Great Fire of London. The second team of detectives—a lady in waiting to the Queen and a royal fireworks maker—found evidence of foul play in the allegedly accidental demolition of St. Paul’s Cathedral more than 350 years earlier while searching for their companion. But did the same wickedness result in murder? Can these murders from the last century aid in the capture of a killer today? A member of the investigative team is the target of London’s killer artist’s latest scorching work as Nigella and O’Leary scramble to decipher previous and current hints.

My Review-

Okay, let’s compare two timelines—the present and 1666. Both tales are set in London and both feature fire as their central topic. The Great Fire of London, a mysterious murder, and murder by fire in the present day all occurred in 1666. In the contemporary passages, a male and female detective duo with a history of romance are on the lookout for a serial arsonist in London. That creates a terrific narrative all by itself. The episodes, which take place during the Great Fire of London in 1666, follow two characters as they seek to investigate the murder of a friend who was killed in the blaze. The characters are accurate for the period, and the setting has been thoroughly studied. They are not modern costumed individuals. Although the two sets of people have different approaches and circumstances, some of their problems are the same. The stories connect and support one another when read together.

The Great Fire elements were well written and entertaining, but the narrative itself seemed too improbable and underdeveloped. And the contemporary Nigella irritated me because she struck me as a contemporary lady who was too cold and even patronizing in her interpersonal relationships. The modern conclusion was similarly unsatisfying, whereas the historical conclusion was both cleanly wrapped up and left open-ended in other areas. The story’s quick pacing, smart writing, and multi-layered characters got me wondering about what drives people to commit crimes and how different eras have dealt with them.

I was left in suspense by the mystery. I believed I understood it. What’s this? My mistake! The contrast of the murderer’s artwork with Wren and Hawksmoor’s building, which is itself an artistic endeavor, was exquisite. The tale will keep you guessing, as I mentioned, and there is a cunning surprise revelation right at the conclusion. Anyone who likes historical fiction and mysteries should read this book, in my opinion. Looking forward to the author’s upcoming book!
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This tense and compelling mystery, told in two different timelines, had me reading anxiously as two police detectives attempt to solve linked arson cases and the brutal murders of people in London.

Detective Inspector Nigella Parker and Scotland Yard Inspector Colm O’Leary work frantically together to find and analyze clues, hoping to prevent further murders. Their interactions are complicated by their prior sexual relationship, which Nigella broke off as soon as O’Leary showed her he felt deeply for her. Parker prefers to keep her personal relationships transactional, and is a little stressed about hers and O’Leary’s friction during the case.

The case is interesting, and dredges up London’s past, specifically its massive fire in 1666, and the commissions to rebuild. The current day’s arsonist seems to be pointing at this information in the locations of his fires, and who he’s murdering.

Despite the grim murders, I enjoyed this mystery, and liked the amateur detective work performed by two individuals in 1666, whose efforts are actually tied to the present-day case. 

Parker is a little prickly, but it’s understandable, considering she has had to work hard amongst men who would likely have given her a hard time over the years.

I don’t know if this is a one-off or not, but I hope there are more Parker-O’Leary investigations to come. 

Thank you to Netgalley and to Crooked Lane Books for this ARC in exchange for my review.
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'Tempered by fire and separated by centuries'... And By Fire is a very unexpected surprise and a lovely gem of historical crime fiction. 
It is written from 3 points of view: a modern female detective, a 17th-century lady of the court turned detective and a famous architect who 'restored' London after the 1666 fire of Sir Christopher Wren.
Dramatic fires take place at the famous London landmarks. They are 'installations', art pieces of sorts until they become deadly. Nigella Parker London detective is on the case. She uncovers many layers to the crime, including their connection to the Great London Fire and architect Christopher Wren.
The crime is solved. Historical truths are questioned. Personal choices are made.
And By Fire is a very interesting, intriguing, suspenseful book that unites history and crime, modern times and times long gone. Moreover, it shows how events and people's choices and actions are interconnected throughout time.

Will definitely follow this author.
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Evie Hawtrey’s dual-period mystery marks the debut of a new pseudonym for Sophie Perinot, who has previously written historicals about female royals (and has contributed to other collaboratively-written novels). Switching genres can pose a creative challenge for writers, though based on my experience reading And By Fire, the author's style is a natural fit for crime fiction.

The novel's modern thread takes the form of a London-based police procedural, and the historical tale (or rather, tales) takes place during the Great Fire of 1666. Somehow, the crimes in both areas are connected… but what could possibly link them across more than 350 years? For one clever perpetrator, the past clearly does not lie quietly.

The settings have a very British feel in all aspects, including the characters’ vocabulary. Nigella Parker, Detective Inspector with the City of London Police in the present, won me over with her no-nonsense attitude and wry wit. She and her counterpart at Scotland Yard, former lover Colm O’Leary, get called in to investigate a case of nuisance arson: a human-shaped wooden figure is found, burned, at the base of the monument to the Great Fire. Nigella’s specialty is arson cases, and her intuition tells her the crimes will escalate, since the “weird ones have a habit of getting weirder,” she says. She’s right. All too soon, Nigella and O’Leary are tracking a murderer who seemingly wants to stick it to Sir Christopher Wren, the legendary English architect.

And in the 17th century, Margaret Dove, lady-in-waiting to Charles II’s Portuguese queen, Catherine of Braganza, is falling in love with a lower-born man, Etienne Belland, His Majesty’s fireworks-maker. Margaret is a woman of science, or would be if her gender didn’t prevent formal study. She struggles to avoid being matched with an unwanted suitor and to overcome the poor prognosis for her health. When a bookseller friend of the couple goes missing amid the conflagration that engulfs London, they need to learn what happened.

Vivid scenes of the Great Fire placed me amid the chaos as flames sweep through the city, people flee with their families and goods, and the King and his brother try in vain to halt the spread. Tension literally and figuratively heats up, since for some, the destruction proves to be an all-too-tempting opportunity. I also appreciated the attention to social class, such as the reaction of Etienne’s family once they realize Margaret is a noblewoman. In the present day, Nigella and O’Leary use all the tools at their disposal, like interviews with witnesses, CCTV footage, and the work of a forensic sketch artist. The two have obvious chemistry, which Nigella – who has moved on to a new lover, James – chooses to ignore for the time being.

Briskly paced and sharply written with multilayered characters, the story left me thinking about the factors that motivate people to commit crimes, and the strategies it takes to solve them in different eras.
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Although And by Fire has strong characters and good historical facts, this story was just not what I expected. I had to push myself to keep on reading and found the description of this book's genre more to historical mystery romance than a thriller. Undoubtedly it is, however, well written, and indicates that extensive historical research has been made to put characters and plot together. 
I downloaded a free copy of this book through NetGalley and this is my unbiased review.
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I really wanted to like this book, the cover was engaging and the blurb was interesting. I could imagine that most readers would enjoy the novel. I usually enjoy historical novels and Evie Hawtrey does tell a good story, plus her characters are strong.
The story spans over 1666 and the present time with crime of arson and murder, the book gives an interesting overview of he history of London. If you enjoy romance and a murder mystery, this book would be a good fit for you. So, do not take my analysis in order choose whether this was a good novel for you. As a result, this is a four star book.
Thank you Evie Hawtrey, Crooked Lane Publishin, and NetGalley for the privege to read this eARC.
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3.5/5⭐️

This is a dual timeline mystery set in 1666 London (centered around the Great Fire) and present-day London. 

The stories are loosely connected by the great architect Christopher Wren (St. Paul’s Cathedral, etc.) and feature fearless, tenacious heroines. While modern-day Nigella Parker, a DI for the City Police, is investigating a series of arson murders, Margaret Dove, a lady-in-waiting for the Queen, is searching to uncover the truth about a friend’s murder during the fire. Both women have complicated romantic interests to contend with as well.

While I did find the Great Fire details very interesting and well-written, that plot line itself seemed too unbelievable and not fully fleshed out. And the modern-day Nigella grated on my nerves as a modern woman who came off as too unfeeling and often condescending in her romantic relationships. Also, the modern-day ending was anti-climactic while the past ending was both neatly tied up in some respects but also open-ended in others.

In the end I really wanted to connect more with the characters (I did enjoy Nigella’s partner, O’Leary) as the book had an interesting premise. But it was just an OK for me. 

My thanks to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for providing the free early arc for review. The opinions are strictly my own.
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Hawtrey exceeds expectations with this debut. The authenticity of local speech and jargon is spot on. The dual timelines balance each other brilliantly. Hawtrey gives the reader dual mysteries that intertwine in a truly unique way. While one mystery is seemingly an open and shut case, the modern day mystery keeps readers guessing until the very end.
The four main characters are true reflections of each other. Nigella and Margaret are both strong women with a weakness. Etienne and Colm are two very successful men who become more than just investigative partners. Each team goes about their tasks with a dedication to due diligence. Hawtrey doesn't hold back in describing for the reader the horrors of the various crime scenes the two pairs encounter. The twists and layers that Hawtrey gives to each mystery are boggling. If this is what she does with a debut it's hard to imagine what Hawtrey has to work towards.
I received a copy of this title via NetGalley.
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A dual time line mystery.  In the present DI Nigella Parker is investigating a murder and an arson which is somehow connected to the Great Fire of London of 1666.  In 1666, Margaret Dove, lady in waiting  to Queen Catherine Braganza and Etienne, a fireworks maker, are convinced there is something more to the fire than anyone has admitted, especially when a murder victim is discovered. While this would normally be catnip for me, I found the 1666 story a bit confusing and the present day time line less than engaging,.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  A rare miss for me.
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I did not know about Christopher Wren and the history of St. Paul's Cathedral, and even though I am a history buff, and I read a lot of historical fiction, I did not know very much about London's Great Fire. So I found it exciting and interesting to have that event written into the historical part of this mystery. I found the events of the fire to be visually descriptive, giving me an idea of the devastation in my mind's eye.

While I very much enjoyed the historical parts, the present day mystery is the star of the show in my opinion. Nigella Parker is a smart independent woman with a no nonsense attitude. I like her. I wasn't keen on her relationship with James. I'm just really not that into sexy hookups, but that being said, it didn't overpower the story. I enjoyed the chemistry and banter between Parker and O'Leary, and secretly kept rooting for them to get the band back together.

The mystery really kept me guessing. I thought I had it figured out. Guess what? I didn't! I loved the juxtaposition of the murderer's art against the architecture of Wren and Hawksmoor, an art form in its own right. As I said, the story will keep you guessing with a clever mystery reveal even at the very end.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction and mystery. Looking forward to the author's next book for sure!
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This dual timeline story has women separated by more than 300 years of time solving mysteries that are somewhat related.

Detective Inspector Nigella Parker has a record of success with arson cases. When she's called in to investigate a charred human figure at Christopher Wren's Monument to the Great Fire of London, she and her partner Colm O'Leary of Scotland yard find themselves on the trail of a murderer who considers himself an underappreciated artist.

While in the past Lady Margaret Dove falls in love with a man of much lower social class who happens to have a Royal Patent from King Charles II to make fireworks for his court. Margaret and Etienne are drawn together by their common love of science but pulled apart by the vast difference in their social status. When they go searching for a friend after the Great Fire of 1666, they find his body and come to believe that he was murdered. Their investigation leads them to Sir Christopher Wren. Wren felt that his genius was under appreciated and that rebuilding St. Paul's was his destiny. But first it had to be completely destroyed during the fire even if he had to manipulate events to make it so. And a few deaths wouldn't be too high a price to pay.

Meanwhile in the present, Nigella and Colm begin to narrow the suspect lists and focus in on an artist who has patterned himself on an architect who worked rebuilding London after the Great Fire but who did not receive the acclaim of Christopher Wren.

I liked the way the two stories were woven together. I liked the romance in the 1666 story and the way the two lovers found a way to be together. The characters in the modern part of the story were also fascinating. I liked the gradual reveal of Nigella's past and the reason for her interest in arson. I liked that she was a dedicated police officer who built her life deliberately to exclude relationships outside of her work. 

The story was intriguing, and the police procedural aspects were well integrated into the plot. I liked trying to follow along with the detectives as the clues were gradually revealed.
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Readers who enjoy genre-bending mysteries will be especially excited to read And By Fire,  a gritty and fascinating police procedural with an alternating timeline which takes readers back to the days of iconic architect Sir Christopher Wren and the Great Fire of London in the 1600s.
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And By Fire by Evie Hawtrey was a perfect combination of historical fiction and mystery.  I felt Hawtrey is a very atmospheric writer and they placed me right in the scene.  The plot was so clever and the twist completely blindsided me!  


*Thank you so much to the publishers for gifting me an early release copy to give an honest review.  My opinions are my own*
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The first fire involved a wooden sculpture that was placed by the Christopher Wren monument for the Great Fire of London.  DI Nigella Parker was called to the scene, but with no actual body it was given a low priority.  A second fire raises Parker’s fears that the fires will accelerate and lives will be lost.  The first body is discovered at the third fire along with a message indicating more to come.  Each fire involves a statue and the locations and message are all tied to Christopher Wren.  As Parker and Colm O’Leary of Scotland Yard investigate in the present, author Evie Hawtrey alternates with events in 1066 that lead up to the fire and its’ aftermath.

Lady Margaret Dove is a lady-in-waiting to the Queen. She is fascinated by science and fears the day that she is forced into an arranged marriage.  Etienne is the king’s fireworks maker.  When he meets Margaret they share a love of learning and she feels free to explore.  It quickly turns to love with Etienne, but she is nobility and he is a tradesman and they know that their time together is limited.  When fire tears through London they discover the murder of a bookseller that they had befriended.  As Parker and O’Leary search for a murderer in the present, Margaret and Etienne also follow the trail of a murderer that leads to Wren.  

Nicholas Hawksmoor was an architect who worked with Wren but was overshadowed by Wren’s achievements. The present day murderer also goes by the name of Hawksmoor and is obsessed with his namesake’s lack of recognition as well as his own.  In a demand to the police, he threatens more deaths if news of his actions are not released to the media.  Pressure to solve the murders intensifies until Hawksmoor threatens someone close to Parker.

As a child, Parker lost two of her friends to a fire and she still has a sickening fear that she must control.  She had an affair with O’Leary in the past.  Even though they are both seeing others, there is still an attraction that is evident through their interactions.  Margaret and Etienne constantly state their love for each other and it does somewhat distract from their story.  It is, however, a solid police procedural and a fascinating look at Christopher Wren and the fire of 1066.  I would like to thank NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for providing this book for my review.
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Unfortunately, this book wasn’t for me. 

I was drawn to the great cover, the synopsis (I love a good crime mystery) and I’m always interested in learning about the history of London, The Great Fire, the architectural wonders, and 17th century England, in particular. Although I hadn’t read anything by Sophie Perinot before, her standing as an established historical novelist gave me a reason to request this book for preview. 

While the first chapter had me smiling at the banter between DI Nigella Parker with the City Police and her partner, Colm O’Leary of Scotland Yard, I soon got tired of the quickie hookups with James and Nigella’s biting personality. What I felt would make this more enjoyable for me was more character development. I kept reading for O’Leary’s name, context clues as to their ages and hints about their prior relationship, it came too late. I also didn’t feel that the illicit sex added anything to the plot, in fact, it detracted from it, in my opinion. The police procedural interested me because my mind was engaged in following the witnesses and suspects. It was also good to follow the sharing of case file information between colleagues. The balance between the mystery and the gruesome crimes was good. 

If the 1666 timeline had kept my interest, I may have trudged through it, but I found myself skipping most of this timeline because I couldn’t feel any pull towards it, neither in terms of characters nor compelling events. Although there were parts of this timeline that were in authentic voice (how people would have spoken back then), it fluctuated, was confusing and featured another romantic relationship that didn’t interest me. As an avid historical fiction reader, I felt let down by what I figured would be the most interesting of the two timelines. 

Please do not allow my reading preferences nor my opinion to sway your decision. It seems as though there are many similar reviews to mine, giving me some sense of validation, but there are also some 5-star reviews, some of them glowing. I must admit to wondering if I’d missed something or if I’d read the same book. It made me uncomfortable enough to leave this review aside for weeks before I posted it. Isn’t it wonderful that we are all so unique in our tastes? How boring it would be if we all liked the same genre and writing style. I encourage you to read for yourself and make an informed decision. 

I was gifted this advance copy by Evie Hawtrey, Crooked Lane Books, and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review.
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This is such a great book with all the plot twists a lover of mysteries could hope for and so much juicy historical goodness for the history buff. In AND BY FIRE, Evie Hawtrey is able to blend the two genres as meticulously as she does the dual timelines.
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It usually takes mystery writers a novel or two to find their stride. And choosing a double narrative right out of the gate adds an extra challenge to the mix. But in Evie Hawtrey’s incandescent debut AND BY FIRE, she demonstrates a magnificent command of not one, but two, very specific settings, weaving a double stranded murder mystery like a carefully turned barley leg: deft, smooth, and intricate—with a satisfying surprise twist at the end. Hawtrey is already a master of her craft.

Hawtrey knows her Hawksmoors from her handsaws, filling her novel with an aviary of heroes and villains. A present day DI in the mode of Jane Tennison with demons of her own to battle and a messy personal life, is assigned to unravel the twisted mind of a serial arsonist and architecture aficionado; while in 1666 during the reign of the Merry Monarch, the Great Fire of London has destroyed the homes and livelihoods of many of the capital’s citizens. Margaret Dove, a waiting woman to the queen, Catherine of Braganza suspects the conflagration was no Act of God. Margaret convinces her beau Etienne, a master of fireworks to help her uncover who set the Great Fire—and why.  Who had motive and opportunity?  

Both plots, past and present, are equally riveting (not always the case in double stranded narratives, particularly in historical fiction); but Hawtrey grabs the reader from the first sentence and builds the tension masterfully with an ever ticking clock. Her author’s eye for atmospheric detail is a detective’s one: nothing is too small to be overlooked, in seamlessly immersive storytelling. 

Hawtrey has found her niche and a shooting star is born.

I received a complimentary copy of AND BY FIRE from #NetGalley. My opinion is entirely my own.
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Could Doctor Christopher Wren have been a murderer?  Did he 'cheat' with St. Paul's?  These are two of the many questions that come up in an arson and murder case in London in the present day.  This book takes place in both 1666 and the present day.  

Brilliant book.  Loved it.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher I read a free advance review copy of the book.  This review is voluntary, honest and my own opinion.
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A murder mystery written in a dual timeline, one part during the period just before the Great Fire of London in 1666, and another timeline in the present day. That piqued my interest and I was ready to go for a good time.
Alas, after a few chapters it became apparent that the chapters that were written about the 17th century were very confusing and complicated and were very heavy on the romance between Etienne and Margaret, something I wasn't interested in. Therefor, I started to skip those chapters and I read only the current day ones.

That was perfectly doable, one more reason to conclude that that dual timeline was superfluous. But there, again a lot of romance between a very annoying DI Nigella Parker, her toyboy James, and her counterpart of Scotland Yard. The character of Nigella was off-putting: she is selfish, annoying and condescending. In her dialogues she is always trying to be funny, but she is not.

I'm sure there a lot of readers who will enjoy this story, but unfortunately it wasn't a good read for me.
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