Published by Createspace on May 20th 2015
Introducing Viola Stewart, a widowed optician with a penchant for detectiving, who stumbles on a secret society of Men in Grey. Journal #1: Doctor Jack and Other Tales - contains three short stories and novella. Three Short Stories:The Day of the Dirigible: Who is that Man in Grey? Why does he want her toy dirigible? An Eye for Detail: Who is taking the children? The Magic Lantern: And what is the connection between Viola's missing patients, the photographer and The Society? Novella: Doctor Jack: Someone is stalking the women of London. An unexpected encounter puts Viola in grave peril. Viola is detectiving again, chasing secret societies and nefarious plots.
I have mixed feelings about this book. Set in London during Jack the Ripper era it’s nicely put together. I don’t always have the historical details in my head but Carlisle does and I trust her. I follow her author page on Facebook and I know she researches things to the nth degree. So I look at some of the history within these pages and I know it’s accurate.
To give you an example of her historical accuracy and to digress from the book for a little. Carlisle makes her own cosplay. She has many pieces of clothing which take much time and effort as she researches absolutely everything. I was fortunate enough to buy (at an incredibly cheap price) a magnificent dress from her collection. It’s heavy and I don’t have much occasion to wear it but it will sit in my cupboard until I do. It’s a dress much like one Viola Stewart would have worn. It has layers and needs an underskirt to go underneath it. I only bought the dress and didn’t do the research, in my haste I made a hoop skirt only to realise recently that I really need a gathered skirt.
I also like Carlisle’s hero, or heroine if you wish to be pedantic. It’s lovely to have a female protagonist who isn’t afraid of things, one who follows her instinct, who gets into the potentially dangerous situations and only sometimes needs someone to pull her out of trouble.
What I don’t like about this book is the romance. Being a friend I bought the book neglecting to ask about any romance and I find it destroys the story for me. But, there’s not much of it and you might have a different experience. I understand I’m in the minority with my dislike of romance.
And what really annoys me is more a historical thing than anything within this book, although the text does highlight the problem for me. It seems that in those days females could attend classes and get a piece of paper saying ‘Doctor XX’ but they couldn’t actually practice. Viola Stewart has this issue and despite being near or at the top of her class she’s not allowed to actually work as a doctor so instead works as an optometrist (although under a different title). She also has to have a male vouch for her with Scotland Yard as the police automatically assume she’s got no brains and knows nothing.
Having said that I do recommend it and here’s a link so you can buy. Supporting Australian authors is great and making me happy by clicking on my affiliate links should be mandatory, buying is optional. I do thank whoever bought that book, those few cents add up over time.