Martine LeDuc, the publicity director for the city of Montreal and a wonderfully likable narrator, partners with offbeat police detective Julian Fletcher in this absorbing mystery from de Beauvoir (Murder Most Academic). As Martine and Julian look into the murders of four women found posed on park benches throughout the city over a period of months, they begin to suspect that the killings are linked to one of Montreal’s most shameful scandals, the Duplessis Orphans. In the 1950s, children separated from mostly unwed mothers in the very Catholic province of Quebec were transferred from orphanages to mental hospitals as a means to secure greater funding. Inhabitants of these hellholes served as guinea pigs for experiments performed for pharmaceutical companies. Now someone is willing to kill in order to avoid opening old wounds. De Beauvoir does a fine job of evoking the ambiance of Montreal, with its fascinating neighborhoods, bilingualism, and political tensions.
– Publisher’s Weekly
There is a serial killer loose in Montreal, and the mayor asks Martine LeDuc, his director of PR, to act as liaison with the police department. Four women have been killed, their bodies left posed obscenely on park benches. When the police charge a homeless man with the murders, Martine is afraid the real killer is still at large. Luckily, renegade police detective Julian Fletcher is as convinced as Martine of the homeless man's innocence, and the two continue to investigate on their own. Martine uncovers a link between the four women: all were involved with the decades-old Duplessis orphanage scandal. Orphanages found they could get more money from the government if the orphans were mentally ill, so the children were sent to asylums, where many of them received lobotomies, electroshock treatments, and hallucinogens. The story alternates between the present-day investigation and the first-person story of one of the orphans, an approach that succeeds in giving the tragedy a human dimension. A complex and heartbreaking mystery.
– Booklist Reviews
It’s how the story from then progresses forward while the story from now works to uncover more and more of the past, until they meet, that is so compelling. Readers are left to question characters motives, to reexamine plot points and wonder how it will all come together. Asylum is a well done murder mystery, but is really one not to miss for the details surrounding what happened to the orphans and the intricate, well pieced together puzzle that involves numerous characters, locations, organizations and comes together over years.
Martine LeDuc is a terrific heroine. She’s bright, good at her job, and obviously distraught at what she and Julian have discovered went on in Québec more than seventy ago. She’s determined to right the wrongs committed by those in power as best she can, in part by making her discoveries public. But, of course, that leads to great danger for herself.
De Beauvoir does an excellent job of bringing the past and the present together into a tense, thoughtful suspense. Some books are fondly set aside when you finish reading, replaced by the next book in your mind. Not so with Asylum. If anything, I find myself thinking of it often still, remembering it, and liking it even more as I do.
– Mystery Suspense Reviews
I thought I was getting another crime procedural: a sadistic serial killer, unknown links among the victims, an “ordinary” woman and a policeman trying to solve the case in spite of official disinterest. But de Beauvoir had a second story to tell, one that was even more interesting, more disturbing than the murders. The mix of two stories, told by the investigating woman and a voice from the past, provided a gripping tale, a tale made even more horrifying in that much of it is true. This is book that needs to be read, both as fast-moving tale of crime and as a lesson from the past that will, once again, cause us to say “Never again.”
– Bob Allen
This is one of the best novels I’ve read in years. I was instantly hooked and connected to the characters. The writing style of de Beauvoir brought the characters to life. The content is riveting and simultaneously disturbing. I couldn’t put it down and was sad when it ended.
– Dianne Hunt–Mason
From the chilling front cover, to the detailed descriptions, extensive research, vivid settings of Montreal, political tensions, and real-life events; Jeannette de Beauvoir, delivers an absorbing mystery suspense; an intense page-turner thriller.
– Judith Collins, Media Professional
Being so closely tied to factual history gives this an extra horrifying feel. Using a modern mystery to show the shocking events of the past is a terrific idea.
– Jennifer Brown, Librarian
Edge of your seat, biting your fingernails suspense! This book has history, romance, and mystery.
– Nikkia Authement, Blogger
This book was....in short- amazing! It was a story of truths mixed with a storyline that flowed off of the pages. I felt sorrow for the children. Anger at the deaths. And total fascination with what was happening with the asylum and how it was all covered up. The author did a wonderful job at creating and building the characters. The story was fluid and very easy to get caught up in. The last half of the book I read straight through-hating that I had to put it down for anything. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a little history and a whole lot of mystery.
– Amy Flannigan, Reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads
This is one of those books that you will open and not put down; it will keep you awake into the wee hours of the morning, and linger with you long after you finish. Martine Leduc and Julian Fletcher are beautifully written, rich characters and the Montreal Ms. de Beauvoir details, pulls you in and captures your imagination.
– Matt W., Bookseller
De Beauvoir has delivered a harrowing, addictive read that will keep you up late into the night and your mind lingering long after you’ve closed the book. Asylum is riveting and disturbing, and charming amateur sleuth Martine Leduc is an indomitable and courageous heroine you’ll be rooting for from page one.
– Linda Castillo, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Kate Burkholder Amish Mystery Series
With searing honesty, and not a trace of self pity, Angell holds the reader’s gaze, daring us to join her on the painful journey where she lost, then regained, the power to be herself.
Charles Coe, Author, Picnic on The Moon
I had read 300 pages of The Illusionist before I took a sip of water in the glass sitting next to me. I was enchanted by the world, by the family, and by the mysteries of this novel. This book will have you up all night, waiting to see how it ends! A must read!
– Carem Bennett, The Vine
Wings was a spellbinding book. My husband knew Harriet Quimby, and he said that she’d have liked the life you gave her.
– Letter to author
Angell levels an uncomfortable light on an unacknowledged truth...that all of us, at some time, make love in the dark.
– Regie Gibson, Slam Poet and Co-author, Love Jones
It didn’t take me even twenty pages to fall for Irene Adler. By page twenty I told myself I wouldn’t even care if this book didn’t develop a plot—I’d keep reading it just for the enjoyment of Irene’s self-deprecating humor and her acute and amusing commentary on the people (and the macaw) in her life. Happily, Assignment: Nepal isn’t short on plot either—all in all, a thoroughly enjoyable read. Adler, named for “the only woman to outsmart Sherlock Holmes,” is an anthropologist with a taste for adventure who hoped her doctorate would open doors. (“It had opened doors, all right. Classroom doors.”) Her former academic advisor Dr. Herbert–who reminds her of Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit, but who may not be as scattered as he seems—convinces her to visit a fellow anthropologist and former classmate in Nepal. Something fishy is going on in Nepal, although Dr. Herbert is less than forthcoming about exactly what he wants her to investigate. Irene is bored enough with academic life–and flush enough from her poker-playing–to take the bait anyway. What follows is an enjoyable travelogue-cum-mystery, involving Nepalese politics and culture, Hindu religious practices, and most of all, people.
The book itself is the collaborative effort of two authors writing under the assumed single name of J.A. Squires, and I hope someday to read an interview about their writing process. To create such a strong narrative voice with two people at the helm is a noteworthy accomplishment indeed. Wherever the lines may have been between the two author’s separate contributions, the result is a seamless product—and (tantalized by the implied promise of the word “series” in reference to this stand-alone book) I’m anxiously awaiting the next installment.
– Kana Lawson
Former call girl and now a history professor, Trinity Pierce is a survivor. She's a loyal friend, solid colleague, and now must morph into a detective for the sake of a friend's request despite the danger that exposing someone else's past can have on her buried former profession. The great writing makes this slim novel fly by, making it a perfect read at the beach, on a plane, or while some boring professor drones on in the classroom. This is a solid mystery delving into two worlds that don't usually cross paths, prostitution and academia. It's a delicate balance that the author carries off with style. The twists will keep you looking over your shoulder as much as they do for Trinity, and the danger to her current life grows as the story progresses. Can Trinity catch a kidnapper and murderer, and save herself? Read, find out, and be surprised.
– Rick Bylina, Author, A Matter of Faith and One Promise Too Many
The poems in Seven Times to Leave lead us through the wreckage of surviving domestic violence, detailing a path from the first suspicion that a relationship may be changing, through the terror and stripping of self-esteem, and on to the shadows the trauma leaves on the body and soul. Seven Times to Leave presents us with survivors' tales, stories that teach us the strength of mind and courage of soul that the recovery from such trauma requires. These unflinching, brave poems remind us that above all we must keep alive our capacity to love, or else we die somewhere deep within.
– Fred Marchant, Author, The Looking House
I thoroughly enjoyed The Illusionist. The characters were very well written and believable. It kept my interest right to the end. This is the second book I've read by this author and look forward to more from her!
– Theresa Caldorette, independent reviewer
These poems go beyond victimization, transcending to personal revelations that are written in a way that connects the reader to the circumstance.
– Joe Gouveia, The Poet's Corner
The Illusionist was a spellbinding novel that transcends standard genres of suspense, historical fiction, romance. The prose is magical, the characters practically breathe, and the plot is riveting. When I picked it up Saturday morning, I didn’t put it down Sunday night. Buy it, and when you are done, you will be breathless, and maybe look at people a little differently.
Assignment: Nepal is a fun, fast-paced book that deftly incorporates an intriguing mystery with a detailed travelogue. The authors paint a compelling portrait of Nepal, while populating the book with interesting characters that bring additional life to the exotic setting. Looking forward to the next Irene Adler story.
– A. Mack, Independent Reviewer
The Boston Marathon bombing brings urgency to Murder Most Academic, whose blackmail plot hinges on Islamophobia. Even without that coincidence, Alicia Stone’s novel shines with realistic characters who conceal more than they reveal. Especially Trinity Pierce, Reluctant Detective. What did she hope to prove by taking on this case? She has her say, but the well-wrought details often suggest otherwise in a world rich with subtext. Her investigation of an unlikable murder victim raises another question, deftly handled: who deserves to be mourned?
– Fred Biddle, Independent Reviewer
This book was a fascinating read. The Duplessis Orphans really did exist, and many of them really were human subjects for bizarre drug experiments. Jeannette de Beauvoir has woven a story combining history and fiction that had me on the edge of my seat. From the beginning right through to the breathless climax, the story moves at a fast pace. The characters are complex, and the setting is incredible. Though I did eventually guess who the killer was, it didn’t dampen my enjoyment of the story one single bit (mostly because I wasn’t sure of it until the end). I suspected almost everyone at one point or another.
And bonus: if you like French, you will find much to love in this book. Snippets and phrases in French are sprinkled liberally throughout the book, and I found myself reading those parts out loud and repeatedly just to hear the lilt of the language. It’s gorgeous.
I hope you’ll check out Asylum and let me know what you think. And, in case I haven’t mentioned it recently, if you read it please consider leaving the author a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Authors appreciate reviews, and I’m sure Ms. de Beauvoir would love it!
– Amy Reade, Reade & Write
You killed me in the end. I'm totally in awe of the flawless crescendo of terror. The stuff of my too-real recurring nightmares.
Wow. That’s my one-word review.
– Avis Johnson