Member Reviews

The Highgate Cemetery Murder is the first book in the Tate and Bell Mystery series by Russian-born British author, Irina Shapiro. The audio version is narrated by Imogen Church. It’s the discovery of a particularly brutal murder victim in Highgate Cemetery that brings Scotland Yard Inspector Sebastian Bell and nurse Gemma Tate together. A young woman, the victim of a vicious and sustained personal attack, is found, tied to a graveyard cross, dressed only in a chemise, and adorned with a bloody heart.

Visiting the grave of his wife, Gemma’s twin, Victor stumbles upon this horrific sight and spots a hatted, cloaked man fleeing the scene. As any good journalist would, he scribbles down some notes, then summons a constable, but dies under the wheels of an omnibus soon after. When Gemma sees, among other cryptic notes jotted down just before his death “I’m being followed”, she becomes convinced her brother was murdered, most likely for what, or whom, he saw.

Persuading the police to take her seriously proves impossible, until she encounters pathologist, Dr Colin Ramsey, who assures her that his friend, Inspector Bell, will listen. Initially busy getting the first responder’s take on the scene and the victim, and Dr Ramsey’s post mortem opinion, Bell then has to break the awful news to a Viscount and his distressed family, all while battling withdrawal from the opium he resorts to in his grief over his wife’s loss.

When he calls on Miss Tate, he agrees with her conclusion, but begs her to allow him to do his job. Not one to be deterred, Gemma makes subtle enquiries under the (easily-adopted) guise of a grieving sister, while Bell tries to eliminate the Viscount’s family and staff from his investigation. He considers suitors, and others who might hold a grudge against the young woman or her family, but makes little progress.

With Gemma’s contributions, they come to understand that the young heiress’s ordeal is not an isolated incident, and that the perpetrators are not common ruffians, but so-called gentlemen who believe themselves immune to prosecution. But they’ve crossed paths with a very determined detective.

Shapiro easily evokes her mid-19th Century London setting, her characters are appealing for all their very human flaws, and there’s some exceptional detective work done in the lead up to an exciting climax that reveals a shocking twist. There’s also a small cameo by a character from another Shapiro series. Fans can look forward to more of this cast in the follow-up, Murder At Traitors’ Gate. This is excellent historical crime fiction.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Storm Publishing.

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I got an advanced audiobook from NetGalley. I really enjoyed this story and thought the narrator was great. I will look into more from this author. This is pretty different from what I normally read and I'm glad I requested it.

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"The Highgate Cemetery Murder" by Irina Shapiro, narrated by Imogen Church, is an awesome Victorian mystery that will take readers back to the intriguing world of 19th-century London.

The characters Gemma Tate and Sebastian Bell are super memorable and relatable. Their tough situations make you feel for them, and as they team up to solve the mystery, their chemistry adds even more excitement.

The mystery itself is gripping, with lots of suspenseful moments and unexpected twists that keep you hooked until the end.

As tension builds between Gemma and Sebastian towards the end, you're left wondering where their relationship will go in future books. This adds another layer of complexity to their dynamic and keeps you invested in their journey.

The outcome of the mystery is unexpected – it shows off Shapiro's skill at creating intricate plotlines that keep you guessing until everything is revealed.

Plus, Imogen Church's narration fits perfectly with the Victorian setting. Her talent for capturing atmosphere through voice acting brought the story to life. Her narration definitely makes this audiobook an enjoyable experience.

In summary, "The Highgate Cemetery Murder" delivers an awesome Victorian mystery filled with engaging characters, thrilling twists, and sets up future installments seamlessly. Fans of Andrea Penrose or Deanna Raybourn will be totally immersed in Irina Shapiro's intricately woven tale set against the backdrop of Victorian London.

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A fabulously written gripping story that was a pleasure to read. I would absolutely recommend this book, it was brilliant and the narration was perfect

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Mystery fans will love this story as Gemma requests the help of local detective Sebastian to find her brother's killer.

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Content warning: violence against women described on page (events happened off page)

I am totally here for more cases being solved by Tate and Bell! Their dynamic was entertaining while still feeling truthful to the time period. While horrible, the case that Bell is tasked with solving and that pulls Tate in to help (despite Bell's protestations) is engrossing. How the pieces connect, who is behind it (and why), and the outcome kept me on the edge of my seat. While Bell's outrage towards the treatment of sex workers and women in general definitely feels modern, I have to believe that there were men in the Victorian Era that felt similarly.

I will be looking forward to the next book in this series for sure.

Imogen Church might be the perfect voice to narrate novels set in Victorian England, she does a brilliant job.

Advanced Reader’s Copy provided by NetGalley, Dreamscape Select, and Storm Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

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Historical mystery covering the cruel murders and suffering of young women in the Regency London. Nurse Gemma and policeman Sebastian Bell meet within sad circumstances - when Gemma´s brother tragically dies. But his death more and more seems like something more sinister. Can this be because of what he saw in the cemetery?

Mystery itself is fine, but there is too much filling around around the sad, cruel, psychopathic basic motive. There are unnecessary motives around which maybe are shedding some light to the social and philosophical aspects the authoress wants to cover - yet they really are not important for the plot and they take too much of the space. I would prefer much more light to be shed into the real problems of violence towards women.

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The Highgate Cemetery Murder was so much fun to listen to. I look forward to reading more book from this series.
I don’t want to unintentionally give spoilers, so I’ll just say this book is a lot like reading an episode of Miss Scarlet & the Duke…but grittier. So enjoyable for those who like historical fiction and mysteries.
Thank you NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this book in each for an honest review.
#TheHighgateCemeteryMurder #NetGalley

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The amateur sleuth/pedestrian either playing detective or assisting adetective has become a bit of a trope (especially in historical books).

However, I love this trope and found this pair to be a lot of fun together. It also explores how woman can truly serve well as a detective, despite the restrictions faced at the time.

****Imogen Church is a Goddess no matter what book she narrates.***

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A riveting Victorian mystery! Inspector Sebastian Bell has his work cut out for him in this case. He needs his wits and all his faculties present, which means he has to rejoin the land of the living and quit his substance abuse grieving stupor. He knows this is the case that will make or break his career. He is intelligent and diligent in his research. Along the way, he meets Gemma and they unconventionally team up to solve these murders. Gemma’s nursing experience gives her the edge to handle the gruesomeness of this case. As a woman, she can also speak to people of interest from a unique perspective. The methodical approach of the case is fascinating and logical. I really enjoyed all the characters, even the supporting ones, and the layers they all added. I thought it was well done and creatively approached. I am looking forward to more stories in this series of Tate and Bell.
The narrator did a great job with male and female voices from different stations and backgrounds.
I received a complimentary copy of this audiobook from the publisher via NetGalley and all opinions expressed are solely my own, freely given.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this historical mystery set in Victorian London. The mystery was unique, if not a little more grusome than most. The backstories of the characters were interesting, and I liked how the relationship between the detectives (one professional and one amateur) developed. I'm excited for more from these characters.

The narration was great as well.

Thank you to #NetGalley, #DreamscapeSelect and #StormPublishing for a free copy of #TheHighgateCemeteryMurder by Irina Shapiro. All opinions are my own.

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I so enjoy a well down historical fiction mystery and the Highgate Cemetery Murders certainly fit this bill. The story follows Sebastian Bell as he investigates the murder of a woman in Highgate Cemetery. Along the way his investigation intertwines with the loss of Gemma Tate’s brother and sets a path for the two to work together.

This tale doesn’t just have murder and mystery. It has personal relationships and setbacks. It also shows how they play on people. Sebastian and Gemma are well developed characters and I loved how the story had each one working through their issue.

How they overlap in the future has me very curious and I’m looking forward to more books in this new series. On another note, the narrator did a fabulous job distinguishing each character and the story was richer for it. Thank you Dreamscape Select for my ALC in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Journalist Victor Tate wanted to place flowers on his wife's grave, but ends up seeing a young woman hanging on a cross. As he is about to check for signs of life, he becomes aware of the presence of another person. As Victor hurriedly leaves the cemetery, he jots down notes in his journal about what he has seen. But before Victor is able to return to the newspaper, he is crushed in an accident. His twin sister, Gemma, is devastated, and wants to find out more about the circumstances of her brother's death. She wants to assist the police inspector assigned to the case of the murdered girl in the cemetery., as Gemma thinks her brother's death is tied to that murder. Inspector Sebastian Bell is dealing with his own demons as he tries to identify the dead woman and find her killer.
The Highgate Cemetery Murder takes the reader on a suspenseful trip. I found this mystery to be exciting and thrilling. It was also an interesting exploration of how women of different classes were treated at the time, and what value women in general were given by society.
I was given an ARC of The Highgate Cemetery Murder by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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So intriguing and fascinating! I know it is a work of fiction, but I was INVESTED! I had to know who was guilty! But I loved following Gemma and Sebastian as they, first separately, and then together, work to find the horrific killer! Sebastian is out to prove he deserves his job and is good at it. Gemma is desperate to find the killer of her brother. I thoroughly loved the story! It kept me guessing until the very end and was so twisty!

TW: I feel like there needs to be this, and there could be in the physical book. It basically revolves around a murder, which includes sexual assault. It gets a bit graphic, but not too crazy. But it is there. A few swears, F word included.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Dreamscape Select for the Audiobook Review Copy.

While I love mysteries and historical fiction, I've been in a recent drought for Victorian murder mysteries. This book may be the thing that breaks me out! Though the story took a few chapters to hook me, once I realized the connections that were being made across plotlines, I was sold. Gemma was a likeable main character without straying too far into clichés, and Sebastian was a nicely complex character. Shapiro highlights the struggles that nurses faced coming home from Crimea - those who were once celebrated for their selflessness and bravery were expected to step back into a purely domestic role when they disembarked in England. She also handles the upstairs/downstairs and class distinctions with aplomb.

The narration was delightful, and I look forward to future entries in this series.

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This story was slow to grab me but once it did I was highly invested. Gemma really helped me get hooked. I loved Gemma’s drive to get answers for her brother. The mystery was intriguing and well crafted. Sebastian was a satisfying character to follow along side Gemma. I’m interested to see if next installments of the series follows them (I hope so!)

Narration was good. I really enjoyed it.

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I received the audio version of this book from Netgalley. I really enjoyed the narration. It was an interesting murder mystery set in Victorian London-a time frame I don't often read about so it was fun to go back to that Era. The plot moved at a good pace and was an overall worth the read/listen.

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The Highgate Cemetery Murder is the first in the Tate and Bell Mystery series by Irina Shapiro.

Gemma Tate is summoned to identify her brother who has been involved in a tragic accident. While there, she learns of a woman who has been murdered in a horrific way. Believing that her brother and this woman’s murder might be connected, Gemma seeks the help of inspector Sebastian Bell. Sebastian has been assigned the case and has discovered the young woman was an aristocratic heiress. He has enough to deal with with work stress and doesn’t need Gemma conducting her own investigation. Sebastian sees pretty quickly that having Gemma’s help could prove useful but he has her safety to consider.

This was so good! My actual rating is a 4.5. This is perfect for fans of Victoria Thompson. I will be continuing with this series and can’t wait for the next installment.

I listened to the audio and highly recommend it. Imogen Church is a great narrator and all the different voices really brought the story to life.

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I'm just going to say it, it is possible to have a book that is amazing and has no spice and you won't miss it.

I found myself completely immersed in this story of love and loss, grief and growth. Gemma and Sebastian have both seen their share of heartbreak and both long to find peace, what they find is a murder that Gemma's brother may have been a witness to and the only clues after his untimely and gruesome death are the scribblings in his notebook.

I will say trying to figure out the clues as scattered and scarce as they were was one of my favorite parts of this book. The other was listening to the wonderful Imogen Church, her voice is melodic and truly transported me into the story.

If you're looking for a good example of a historical mystery that is completely based on the story then this is the audiobook for you.

Thank you to Dreamscape Media and Netgalley for providing a copy of this audio book, I have voluntarily listened to it and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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I greatly enjoyed this first entry in a new series. And off we go on an adventure into multiple different homes, encountering completely different Londoners and a story of multiple crimes. I am not normally an audio book person but I listened to this one and the narrator was quite good. Highly recommend.

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