Member Reviews

Gemma Tate’s brother is cautious and careful, so when he is trampled to death, she is determined to discover why. With a bit of help from police inspector Sebastian Bell, and a few notes from her brother’s notebook, she begins to ask questions about what really happened. Inspector Bell, however, is trying to solve the high profile murder case on which his career depends. When they learn that the two deaths are related, they form a loose partnership to unravel the connections and find the person/s responsible.

I really like this author’s Redmond and Haze series, so I jumped at the chance to read this first book in a new series. When I was offered an ARC of the audiobook, that was even better. Fortunately, the book did not disappoint.

I like Gemma and can see how her training as a nurse would be useful in any kind of investigation. Her time spent in the Crimean War almost guarantees that she won’t be squeamish about anything they might uncover. Sebastian has a few faults that might otherwise make me dislike him, but he is a good investigator, even under extreme pressure. He is a quick thinker, which saves his skin more than once, and he knows how to work around ineffective leadership.

The murder indicated by the book’s title is a grisly one (at least for me) and very unusual, but the police have few clues to go on until Gemma shows up with her brother’s notebook. Even then, there aren’t many suspects until their questions start to shed light on the entire situation. I was surprised at the identity of the killer, but the motive was simply disgusting.

The narrator did an excellent job, keeping me on the edge of my seat for most of the book, and I look forward to reading (or listening to) the next book in this series.

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This book needs no cajoling to get you invested in the story. Shapiro does an amazing job at immediately capturing the readers interest and make you already feel endeared to the characters. I personally am a huge fan of mystery and whodunnit scenarios and this book did not disappoint. Even knowing how the book would go to an extent due to the book summary, I did not find myself at all wishing the plot would carry on already and get past the beginning preamble. The tentative partnership/dynamic between the detective Sebastian and the female protagonist Gemma was well done and didn't feel contrived or like the relationship was being forced. I found there to be a good balance between an entertaining story of two ingenuit characters and a good commentary of the political/societal that fit well into the historical backdrop. The story did an excellent job at answering all questions and making the reader feel that any paths taken to solve the mystery were necessary and not an attempt to lengthen the story.

The narrator, Imogen church, did a fantastic job at conveying the necessary emotions for the scenes. A lot of heavy matters are discussed in this book and Church consistently gives a perfect performance for every scene. There were times I forgot I was even listening to one person reading this story and not seeing the entire work play out before me. Shapiro's book was already great and Church's narration succeeded in immersing the reader further into the story. I listened to the audiobook all the way through with very few pauses since I could just not set it down until I knew the whole truth of the Highgate Cemetery Murder.

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A woman is murdered and displayed in a very gory fashion at a cemetery. The man that first discovered the dead woman gets crushed by an omnibus and his sister doesn’t think it was an accident and along with Inspector Bell from Scotland Yard they set out to solve the case.
It’s pretty dark and maybe a little graphic for some, you can start reading it as some of it is right at the start with the discovery of the body, and it gets darker still.
A few too many anachronisms that took me out of it at times. But still enjoyable, even if I could use more Gemma. Hopefully she has more to do in the second book of the series.
I got the audio book and at first I wonder if I would make it through as the narration was a little, over dramatic but I got used to it and/or it got better.
CW, rape, violence against, violence against pregnant people, drug use.

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Thank you Negalley, Irina Shapiro and Dreamscape Select, Storm Publishing for the audio Arc of The highgate Cemetery Murders.
Narrated by Imogen Church

The Highgate Cemetery is a Historical mystery thriller set in the Victorian Era of London. You get a nice punch of the storyline within 5 mins of the narrative with the murder victim. From then on in, it's a nice build up of investigation from a nurse, Gemma Tate and Detective, Sebastian Bell. The POV of the story is from them which works really well.

Its hard to believe that within the Victorian times, that women were not recognised as intellectual beings and Im glad to say that the dynamics between Miss Tate And Mr Bell becomes very respectful as Bell recognises that he is dealing with a very intelligent, observant person. And to quote Bell when he was questioned regarding women's status within the community. " women can be anything they want to be " Irina has a lovely writing style, covering the times, building suspense and leaving you wanting to find out who was the perp. The pay off was wonderful.

This audiobook was narrated by Imogen Church and I really love her voice and the way she places expression in the right places. I do however find that I have had to speed this book up to 1.5.

A good 4 star book and looking forward to reading more from Irina.

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What a fun and entertaining story! The Highgate Cemetery Murder, by Irina Shapiro starts off with a bang! I was immediately drawn into the "who done it" scenario. I thought the narrator did a marvelous job at giving each character their own voice, and making the book come alive. I hope they continue to use this narrator for the subsequent books to come in this new series.

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I would listen to anything narrated by Imogen Church and the fact that this was a fast-paced, fun thriller was a bonus! Loved the ending and can't wait for the next one in the series

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Hours after discovering a murder victim in a cemetery, Victor Tate, Gemma Tate's twin brother, dies tragically in a carriage accident. When Gemma reads Victor's journal, she is convinced that it was murder, not an accident. Victor saw a man in the cemetery with the body. When Gemma goes to report the incident at Scotland Yard, she is laughed at and thrown out. Some chance meetings connect her to Sebastian Bell, the person investigating the cemetery murder. She tells her story to Sebastian- who believes her. Gemma forces her way into helping Sebastian. They know that they are only looking for one murderer, despite having two victims. Both Sebastian and Gemma are dealing with immense grief (Sebastian's wife died), and find an unlikely partnership in their loneliness and shared goal.

I listened to the audiobook version. Imogen Church narrates. I typically like Imogen Church, but early on, I felt that her tone didn't match the book. I got used to it though and it didn't bother me by the end.

I am not sure if it was the book itself or the audio, but this started out rough for me. Not terrible- I just wasn't loving it. But it quickly got better. I think subsequent books will be stronger because we 'know' Gemma and Sebastian. All of the characters in this book are complex and well developed.

I look forward to seeing Gemma and Sebastian working together for the next case.

I received an advance audio copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Oh my gosh the reveal. Ugh just absolutely sickening. I love the storyline and the characters. The detective was amazing and I love how he doesnt let social class matter in his investigations.

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The first installment in the new Tate and Bell mystery series by Irina Shapiro, set in victorian London.

Set on Halloween night in 1858, a woman's body is found in a cemetery and the only man who could ID the potential murderer now dead, Gemma Tate becomes determined to find out what happened to her brother and so links forces with Inspector Sebatian Bell.

I enjoyed the developing relationship between Tate and Bell and look forward to more installments.
A gritty historical fiction that I'm glad I kept going with. The narration was a bit slow for my liking, even at 2x speed and I very nearly DNF due to this.

Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

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Much thanks to Irina Shapiro, Dreamscape Select, and NetGalley for allowing me to listen to a free eaudio ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This has to be one of the best murder mysteries I've read recently. It's just dark enough in tone, the plot just twisty enough to keep me guessing without seeming like it's trying too hard to be clever with its red herrings. The pace is perfect,* fast enough to keep me engaged but slow enough to have character development.

I love the MCs, though I could have used a little more Gemma. An epilogue for her would have been nice. Sebastian's a good man but flawed and in no way self-righteous; Gemma's strong, respectable, and just modern enough to appeal to a feminist audience. The snooty holier-than-thous get knocked down a peg and the scumbags get served.

My only issue---and it's not really even an issue---was that the narrator spoke so slowly. I had to turn the speed up to 1.5, when normally the 1.15 to 1.3 range suits me. I don't know if the narrator actually spoke that slowly or if it was edited to be that way, but it was a bit baffling. *Considering that, I should toss in the caveat that if the listener's listening to it at only 1.0 playback, the pace might seem slower. Aside from that, Imogen Church is a fantastic narrator.

Wait, I have another issue---Shapiro's work isn't available to libraries!!!! I used a credit to get The Hanging Tree on Audible last year and loved it, but she's a prolific writer and I simply can't afford to purchase all her books (because I would very much like to experience them all!). I can't always afford Audible, either. So I hope the fact that this one is on NetGalley and listed in Overdrive's catalogue means more of her work might be available to libraries in future.

Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely.

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When her brother dies, leaving behind cryptic notes, nurse Gemma enlists the help of inspector Sebastian to solve the mystery. Already burdened with a high-profile murder case, Sebastian reluctantly teams up with her. As they decipher the clues, their journey takes them from aristocratic estates to the gritty streets of London. Can they uncover the truth and emerge unscathed?

This gripping mystery includes fascinating characters and a compelling plot. It’s immersive and kept me guessing right until the end. The audiobook narration was enjoyable.

Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.

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What an exciting addition to the historical mystery genre. Detective Bell is a wonderfully complex and flawed character, intelligent but tortured. His backstory is both heart wrenching and a key factor to who he is today. Gemma Tate, equally complex and relatable, is a nurse who served in the Crimean with Florence Nightingale and now finds herself abruptly alone in the world. Unsurprisingly, they are brought together by murder. Fortunately, neither is hardened by their experiences nor tightly bound to or by societal conventions, and we are not subjected to a long and drawn out battle of wills between the two. Bell, demonstrating his intelligence, recognizes the benefits of partnering with Gemma on his case (albeit it very informally) after only the merest resistance, and Gemma is not a headstrong protagonist who must prove herself to be something she is not. Each plays to their own strengths, and it provides for a gripping but enjoyable story with the promise of much more to come. Although most readers will have a good idea, generally, of the culprit early on, I did not identify the specific murderer until revealed by the author. I also found all the characters to be well developed while leaving plenty of room for each to evolve as the series progresses. I look forward to many more books in this series.

Potential trigger: Early on we learn that Bell has developed a dependence on opium, as a means to escape the result of a traumatic loss. He is fighting it, but recognizes that he may need some help. More than likely, his efforts to free himself from the drug will be addressed in future books.

Imogen Church does a masterful job of voicing these characters.

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This review is for the audiobook, The Highgate Cemetery Murder, read by Imogen Church. As we know, the narrator can make or break the audiobook. The characters' voices were very interesting and varied. Ms Church did a great job on the male voices too. There wasn't any ambient or distracting background noises and the entire production was professional. My only quibble was the volume difference between the voices varied considerably. It was difficult to find a level of volume that wasn't too loud or too quiet.
Thank you to netgalley for the audio arc.

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Cover: loved it, and it reminded me of the lady Sherlock series by Sherry Thomas
Narrator: excellent, but spoke rather slowly, so I increased the speed and did not have any difficulty following the story or missing any of her inflections
Plot: excellent attention to detail! I am a nurse practitioner, who works in an inner city emergency room and thought this book did an excellent job, exploring the medical history and gritty of a crime. I enjoyed this very much and especially liked the reference to Florence Nightingale.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.
This was a great historical mystery. Well researched and the narrator did a great job.
I’m really looking forward to listening to future books in this series.

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I am giving a review on the audio book edition of this title which I received as an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

I will be honest, I almost had to DNF this book within the first few minutes due to the narration which is really hard to listen to. I would have fallen asleep for one but also the performance affected the story too much which to me is a huge problem for audition narration. Walking the line between bringing a book to life but not allowing for the reader to create the world in their head is a hard one and this fails completely.

However, I sped up the speed of the narration to 1.25 which is the first option within NetGalley. Usually that speed is really fast and I prefer 1.15 usually in other platforms, but this narrator speaks so slowly that 1.25x makes it sound like typical speed. It also thankfully changes the impact of her characterizations making them sound more typical which is needed.

As for the book itself it was great for those who like historical fiction as well as a good murder mystery. Now this isn’t a cozy mystery so beware! It is gritty, dark and some themes can be really triggering to some and the book does not come with content warnings at all.

It is chock full of history that’s weaved seamlessly throughout the book and great crime solving. The only big issue is the wrap up of the crime. It seems like an afterthought. With such a detailed book to end in manner that is so jarring that it comes off like another author quickly finished the work.

I'm having a hard time rating the book as I am specifically rating the audiobook. But I also don’t want to penalize the author for a job well done.

So a 4/5 for the book itself
And a 1/5 for the narration

Why does the narration matter? Well you want people to actually consume the whole book and it makes it very hard to do so as narrated. So do yourself a favor and speed it up from the start.

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This is the first in a historical fiction murder series by Irina Shapiro set in the Victorian era which I listened to on audio. It was approximately 12 hours and 45 minutes long, narrated by Imogen Church, in a style which did not really work for me, her constant emphasis in adding over the top dramatic tones, and at times a pacing that feels out of sync with the narrative, often grated. Nevertheless, I persisted, and after some time did eventually become immersed, particularly as the pace picked up in the latter stages of the novel. Set in 1858, we are given a illuminating picture of the rigid class system and sharp inequalities between the power of the privileged and their ability to interfere in police investigations and even able to get officers, even high ranking police, fired. They are protected by domestic staff, even Gentlemen's members clubs employees go out of their way to hinder the police.

It all begins on All Saints' Day with a horrifying murder of a young woman, her body discovered at Highgate cemetery, a pig's heart strung around her neck, found by journalist Victor Craven, who reports it to the police. He is later found killed under the wheels of an omnibus. His courageous, bereaved and despairing sister, Gemma, who served as a nurse with Florence Nightingale, comes across his notebook which suggests his death was no accident, but murder. This leads her to work with Scotland Yard's Sebastian Bell, still grieving and traumatised by the terrifying killing of his pregnant wife, leaving him addicted to alcohol and opium. Knowing he can expect to lose his job if he fails when he is appointed to the case by his boss, Superintendent Lovell, he insists Gemma only works undetected at the periphery, something she agrees to. Even so, it is Gemma that obtains the necessary evidence that helps uncover the ruthless villains behind the murder.

It is a delight to see the relationship develop between Bell and Gemma, a meaningful connection that helps to distract from the pain and grief in their lives, and it will be fascinating to see where they go next. I appreciated how the author highlighted the institutionalised limitations on what women could do, the gender discrimination, norms and attitudes are breathtaking, not to mention they are not taken seriously on anything. The filth, poverty and precarious lives faced by the poor is well depicted in sharp contrast with the over indulged wealthy, and we can see the racism and Islamophobia of the time roo. This was not a perfect read or audio, but I did get to eventually enjoy the gritty storytelling. Many thanks to the publisher and Dreamscape Select for the ALC.

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I absolutely loved this one! I found the narration to add a depth and breadth to the story that really helped draw me into the time period. The characters were well developed and fully flushed out, and the plot was wholly engaging and full of twists and turns that I often didn't anticipate. I'm definitely hoping this turns into a multi-book series, as I would love to see more from the characters.

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