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Winter of Despair

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Wilkie Collins must prove his brother is innocent of murder in the second of the compelling new Gaslight mystery series. November, 1853. Inspector Field has summoned his friends Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins to examine a body found in an attic studio, its throat cut. Around the body lie the lacerated fragments of canvas of a painting titled A Winter of Despair. On Wilkie Collins must prove his brother is innocent of murder in the second of the compelling new Gaslight mystery series. November, 1853. Inspector Field has summoned his friends Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins to examine a body found in an attic studio, its throat cut. Around the body lie the lacerated fragments of canvas of a painting titled A Winter of Despair. On closer examination, Wilkie realizes he recognizes the victim, for he had been due to dine with him that very evening. The dead man is Edwin Milton-Hayes, one of Wilkie's brother Charley's artist friends. But what is the significance of the strange series of faceless paintings Milton-Hayes had been worked on when he died? And why is Charley acting so strangely? With his own brother under suspicion of murder, Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens set out to uncover the truth. What secrets lie among the close-knit group of Pre-Raphaelite painters who were the dead man's friends? And who is the killer in their midst?


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Wilkie Collins must prove his brother is innocent of murder in the second of the compelling new Gaslight mystery series. November, 1853. Inspector Field has summoned his friends Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins to examine a body found in an attic studio, its throat cut. Around the body lie the lacerated fragments of canvas of a painting titled A Winter of Despair. On Wilkie Collins must prove his brother is innocent of murder in the second of the compelling new Gaslight mystery series. November, 1853. Inspector Field has summoned his friends Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins to examine a body found in an attic studio, its throat cut. Around the body lie the lacerated fragments of canvas of a painting titled A Winter of Despair. On closer examination, Wilkie realizes he recognizes the victim, for he had been due to dine with him that very evening. The dead man is Edwin Milton-Hayes, one of Wilkie's brother Charley's artist friends. But what is the significance of the strange series of faceless paintings Milton-Hayes had been worked on when he died? And why is Charley acting so strangely? With his own brother under suspicion of murder, Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens set out to uncover the truth. What secrets lie among the close-knit group of Pre-Raphaelite painters who were the dead man's friends? And who is the killer in their midst?

39 review for Winter of Despair

  1. 5 out of 5

    Juli

    When I saw the book blurb for Winter of Despair, I just had to read this book! A series pairing Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens as amateur detectives -- how could I resist?? Winter of Despair is the second book in the Gaslight Mystery series. I haven't read the first book -- Season of Darkness -- yet. But I'm definitely going to! Winter 1853. Collins and Dickens are summoned by a local inspector to a murder scene. An artist is dead, his throat cut. Collins knows the dead man. He's a friend of When I saw the book blurb for Winter of Despair, I just had to read this book! A series pairing Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens as amateur detectives -- how could I resist?? Winter of Despair is the second book in the Gaslight Mystery series. I haven't read the first book -- Season of Darkness -- yet. But I'm definitely going to! Winter 1853. Collins and Dickens are summoned by a local inspector to a murder scene. An artist is dead, his throat cut. Collins knows the dead man. He's a friend of his brother Charley. Unfortunately Charley is a suspect in the killing. The two writers know they must find the killer to clear Charley's name. The truth is elusive....and the situation quite dangerous. I like the premise and feel of this series. It's a bit cozy-ish (light mystery, nothing graphic), but well-written and different. I love it when a series offers me something new....pairing Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens is definitely something I have not read before. The mystery is a bit light, but I enjoyed the story! I'm definitely going to back track and read the first book. This is the first book by Cora Harrison that I have read. I'm definitely going to read more by her. I enjoyed this book! Fun read! I like the cover art, too. Dark and foreboding! Perfect! **I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Severn House via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty ❤️

    A new crime fighting duo for me with writers Dickens and Collins trying to solve the murder of painter Edwin Milton-Hayes & clear the name of Collins' younger brother who is one of the main suspects. I liked these two working as detectives and it makes for an enjoyable read in the main. It ran a little slow for me at times though, I wanted a little more from it. If you like cosy mysteries and clue solving crimes then you will enjoy this.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sarah-Hope

    Winter of Despair is the second "Gaslight Mystery" featuring Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and a particularly smart and rebellious servant girl. I feel about this book much the way I did about the first—it's not brilliant historical fiction, it's not a mind-bending mystery, but it has enough of each of those to make for enjoyable light reading. This time around, Collins' younger brother is accused is accused murdering a fellow artist. He's not the only suspect, however. It seems that the Winter of Despair is the second "Gaslight Mystery" featuring Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and a particularly smart and rebellious servant girl. I feel about this book much the way I did about the first—it's not brilliant historical fiction, it's not a mind-bending mystery, but it has enough of each of those to make for enjoyable light reading. This time around, Collins' younger brother is accused is accused murdering a fellow artist. He's not the only suspect, however. It seems that the artist also engaged in blackmail, painting people in compromising positions, then demanding payment to keep the works hidden. If you like "cozy" historical mysteries, you may wat to pick this title up.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ola Adamska

    It's a historical fiction book, that was on the 'ok' side when it came to the historical side or crime side. I was not swept away by "Winter of Despair", but the read overall was enjoyable, yet I don't think I would will ever read it again. For the best side of the book, I can count unconventional ad little sassy maid. Not best, but ok, a book that was a nice read with all the things.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Vivienne

    My thanks to Severn House Publishers for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘Winter of Despair’ by Cora Harrison in exchange for an honest review. This is the second in Harrison’s Gaslight Mysteries series featuring amateur sleuths Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens. I wasn’t aware that Collins and Dickens were close friends in real life but it seems that they were. It can be read as a stand-alone. London, November, 1853. When the body of an artist is found in an attic studio with his throat cut and My thanks to Severn House Publishers for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘Winter of Despair’ by Cora Harrison in exchange for an honest review. This is the second in Harrison’s Gaslight Mysteries series featuring amateur sleuths Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens. I wasn’t aware that Collins and Dickens were close friends in real life but it seems that they were. It can be read as a stand-alone. London, November, 1853. When the body of an artist is found in an attic studio with his throat cut and surrounded by the fragments of a painting titled ‘Winter of Despair’, Inspector Field of Scotland Yard summons his friends Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens to the scene hoping they might help identify him. He is Edwin Milton-Hayes, an artist who was due to be the principle guest at a dinner party hosted by Collins’ mother that evening. Suspicion quickly falls on Wilkie’s younger brother, Charley, another member of the Pre-Raphaelite group of artists. It appears that Milton-Hayes had created a series of strange faceless paintings. What was their purpose? Collins and Dickens seek to clear Charley’s name and uncover the identity of the true killer from a growing list of possible suspects. I felt that this was quite an interesting historical mystery and I enjoyed reading the Author’s Note where she gives details of what is true in the series as well as her process in capturing the voices of her main protagonists through reading their collected works and studying their letters. I always am drawn to historical novels that feature artists and the Pre-Raphaelites have fascinated me for years. Even though this is quite a short novel Harrison has captured a strong sense of the period. I found it a satisfying whodunnit that I would class it as a historical cosy and I have a number of friends who are bound to enjoy it. This was my first experience of Cora Harrison’s work though she clearly has been writing historical mysteries for years. I have ordered a copy of the first book, ‘Season of Darkness’ and will also be looking out for further books in the series.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Helen Howerton

    A strange beginning – a dead painter – dead in a room filled with paintings with empty faces. This is the unsettling beginning of Winter of Despair, the second in the Gaslight mysteries series by Cora Harrison featuring Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens, two most unlikely detectives. The problem is that Charles Collins in involved. This is a younger brother. He’s very weak, weepy, and as far as I was concerned, unlikeable. Brother Wilkie and Mother Collins are determined to protect him at all A strange beginning – a dead painter – dead in a room filled with paintings with empty faces. This is the unsettling beginning of Winter of Despair, the second in the Gaslight mysteries series by Cora Harrison featuring Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens, two most unlikely detectives. The problem is that Charles Collins in involved. This is a younger brother. He’s very weak, weepy, and as far as I was concerned, unlikeable. Brother Wilkie and Mother Collins are determined to protect him at all costs, because he couldn’t have done the deed. Also determined to protect him is housemaid Sesina, who shares chapters in the book with our Mr. Collins as a point of view. She’s got brains enough for all of them. It soon becomes evident what the painter was up to: blackmail. The faces are empty because he expected the victim to pay up before he would fill them in and reveal all to the world. Society, of course would be appalled and the victim ruined. Would someone kill to stop this? Of course. I found this book rather turgid-going. We get a lot of talk about “poor Charles,” a whole lot about the paintings, and then there’s Sesina and what she’s up to -- finding ways to keep Charles from the hangman was definitely a full-time job for the girl. The one saving grace was the unfolding of the identity of the murderer. That happened rather quickly and was particularly well done. I gave it one extra star for how that all came about. Thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for a copy of this book, in exchange for this review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Romero

    A Gaslight Mystery #2 Dickens and Wilkie are back in the second installment of the Gaslight Series. Along with some of our favorite characters from the first book. It's the year 1853, in November and Dickens and Wilkie have been summoned by Inspector Fields to the scene of a murder. The murder of a well-known artist whom they recognize immediately. Wilkie's brother Charles has worked with the artist who now lies dead along with a painting that has also been slashed beyond recognition. The only A Gaslight Mystery #2 Dickens and Wilkie are back in the second installment of the Gaslight Series. Along with some of our favorite characters from the first book. It's the year 1853, in November and Dickens and Wilkie have been summoned by Inspector Fields to the scene of a murder. The murder of a well-known artist whom they recognize immediately. Wilkie's brother Charles has worked with the artist who now lies dead along with a painting that has also been slashed beyond recognition. The only thing they know is the title Winter of Despair. But they also find several other paintings of people indulging in rather sinful behavior. What makes it difficult is there are no faces. Just hints of hair color or style, clothing style are there. Hoping to flush out the killer Mrs. Collins hosts a dinner with all of the artist's subjects and there are certainly enough poorly behaved people to go around. But which one is the killer? Sesina is still working for the Collins family and Charley is her favorite. He's fragile and is acting awfully suspicious. Sesina is going to make it her business to make sure he is not accused of killing the said artist. Full of intrigue, history and amateur sleuths, this new series is turning out quite well! What I love most about this series is these are real people and real events. The story is a wonderful mix of facts and speculation that makes a good read.       NetGalley/ January 7th, 2020 by Severn House Publishers

  8. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    "Winter of Despair" is a mystery set in 1854 in London. Wilkie Collins and his friend Charles Dickens investigated the murder along with a maid named Sesina. Sesina thinks that she's very clever and so created false clues for Inspector Field because she felt sorry for his chief suspect, Charlie Collins. However, all three were more interested in protecting people than in revealing the truth to the Inspector (unless finding the murderer would point to someone they didn't like). The murderer was "Winter of Despair" is a mystery set in 1854 in London. Wilkie Collins and his friend Charles Dickens investigated the murder along with a maid named Sesina. Sesina thinks that she's very clever and so created false clues for Inspector Field because she felt sorry for his chief suspect, Charlie Collins. However, all three were more interested in protecting people than in revealing the truth to the Inspector (unless finding the murderer would point to someone they didn't like). The murderer was never turned into police. The characters were interesting and well developed. Historical details about what London was like at the time were woven into the story and played a role in the mystery. While the mystery was clue-based, some clues were hidden from the reader until the very end. There was no sex. There were a few uses of bad language. While the historical details were enjoyable, the mystery did not have a satisfying ending, in my opinion. I received an ebook review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Johnston

    For a man who was as intriguing and interesting as Dickens, Winter of Despair did him an incredible disservice representing him the way they did. Harrison paints Dickens as the flattest, most unremarkable character I have encountered in literature in quite some time. Quite seriously, you could erase Dickens name from the entire novel and I would challenge anyone to read the work and correctly identify that character as the one and only Charles Dickens. The plot also drags on which left very For a man who was as intriguing and interesting as Dickens, Winter of Despair did him an incredible disservice representing him the way they did. Harrison paints Dickens as the flattest, most unremarkable character I have encountered in literature in quite some time. Quite seriously, you could erase Dickens name from the entire novel and I would challenge anyone to read the work and correctly identify that character as the one and only Charles Dickens. The plot also drags on which left very little to encourage readers to turn the page. If I said it before, I will say it a hundred times: read Giles Brandreth's Oscar Wilde series. Each character is accurately represented to the point where you feel as though you've truly met them. This work, on the other hand, should be passed over.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Thanks to NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review. Winter of Despair is the second in the Gaslight Mystery series featuring Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, as they investigate the death of Edwin Milton-Hayes, an artist whose last paintings held a secret meaning. Having not read the first book, it struck me odd that the narration was split from Collins' first person perspective and a third person perspective, that of a servant girl named Sesina, who seemed to have ulterior Thanks to NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review. Winter of Despair is the second in the Gaslight Mystery series featuring Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, as they investigate the death of Edwin Milton-Hayes, an artist whose last paintings held a secret meaning. Having not read the first book, it struck me odd that the narration was split from Collins' first person perspective and a third person perspective, that of a servant girl named Sesina, who seemed to have ulterior motives, sometimes contradictory to Dickens and Collins. Nevertheless, it was less of a mystery and more of historical fiction, with the requisite plot twists.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    November, 1853. The body of painter Edwin Milton-Hayes has been discovered, murdered, in his attic studio. Inspector Field has asked for the help of his friends, the writers Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins. Near the body are the slashed remains of a painting entitled A Winter of Despair. During the search Collins and Dickens discover paintings with faceless people. Unfortunately Collins realises one of these people is his brother Charles. Collins and Dickens investigate to help clear his November, 1853. The body of painter Edwin Milton-Hayes has been discovered, murdered, in his attic studio. Inspector Field has asked for the help of his friends, the writers Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins. Near the body are the slashed remains of a painting entitled A Winter of Despair. During the search Collins and Dickens discover paintings with faceless people. Unfortunately Collins realises one of these people is his brother Charles. Collins and Dickens investigate to help clear his name. Easily read as a standalone story. An enjoyable and well-written mystery with plenty of suspects to deal with in this cozy historical story. A NetGalley Book

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, and Sesina the maid find themselves investigating the murder of Edwin, a friend of Wilkie's brother Charley in this second installment of a series set in 1853. Charley, Edwin, and their friends are all artists. Edwin's been painting odd things lately, which adds to the mystery of who killed him. Sesina has always favored him so she's especially interested in the case. Don't quibble with the Collins/Dickens thing, just go with it and read this as a historical cozy Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, and Sesina the maid find themselves investigating the murder of Edwin, a friend of Wilkie's brother Charley in this second installment of a series set in 1853. Charley, Edwin, and their friends are all artists. Edwin's been painting odd things lately, which adds to the mystery of who killed him. Sesina has always favored him so she's especially interested in the case. Don't quibble with the Collins/Dickens thing, just go with it and read this as a historical cozy of sorts. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.

  13. 4 out of 5

    nikkia neil

    Thanks to Severn House and netgalley for this ARC. All opinions are my own. Cora Harrison know how to keep you reading a story until 3 a.m. I love movement of the characters in this series, we get to explore London with them. The irony at the end of the book will have you smiling. Can;t wait to read the next one!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Annarella

    I like Cora Harrison mysteries and I think that is an enjoyable and engrossing read. I liked the character development, the well researched historical background and the solid mystery. Recommended. Many thanks to Severn House and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mary Ellen Anaka

    I did like this story. It was different. Featured two of my favourite authors as the characters in the story. I thought the maid was rather clever. I would rate this a 3.5 out of 5.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Heather Bennett

    Winter of Despair is the second in the Gaslight series. It is a good historical mystery with very interesting characters and storyline.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Corina

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

  19. 5 out of 5

    Edington

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sue

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gasparde

  22. 4 out of 5

    Media-Upper Providence

  23. 5 out of 5

    V'Ella Warren

  24. 4 out of 5

    margit fassbender

  25. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

  26. 4 out of 5

    Shaune Bowens

  27. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Kelly

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sam Miller

  30. 5 out of 5

    Chrysandra Rissman-Comaduran

  31. 5 out of 5

    Silviavg

  32. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Nagy

  33. 4 out of 5

    Niki_k

  34. 5 out of 5

    Chryssi

  35. 5 out of 5

    Pam

  36. 5 out of 5

    Naphtali

  37. 5 out of 5

    Kris - My Novelesque Life

  38. 5 out of 5

    Wayong

  39. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Bianchi

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