Okay, she’s not a debut author, but she is new to me! When I learned that she’d written a book in the True Colors Crime Series, I knew The Black Midnight would be my first Y’Barbo book. Come on. Pinkertons, Jack the Ripper, and Queen Victoria??? Count me in!
NOTE: I’m only three chapters into this book, but I have to say that I love her writing style and the characterization alone are awesome. I sneaked a peek at the author’s notes on her research, and LOVE that she draws her own conclusions based on what she discovered. Usually, that means some seriously good research. Oh, and Alice Anne calling Queen Victoria “Granny”? Too adorable.
So, since I flubbed a deadline and HAVE to write tonight, what I’m doing is putting the podcast episode I did about this series below and you can listen to just the bit about why I wanted to read this book or you can listen to my take on the first three episodes of the series by skipping to 28:46ish
Note: Links may be affiliate links that provide me with a small commission at no extra expense to you.
Why I LOVE The Black Midnight & This New Author
Okay, I’ll be honest. There are flaws with this book. There. I said it. The ending is a bit rushed, there are a few inconsistencies, the royalty aspect (which I was really excited about) was interesting but stretched the suspension of disbelief, and the way the “we don’t know what happened” was handled… eeeeh.. not so much.
Okay, now that I got the honest criticism out of the way, how about we talk characters? Loved them. Queen Victoria cracked me up. I love when people write her as a person instead of just a personage. Y’Barbo DID.
What about settings? Great! I loved that the author both gave Austin, Texas its best setting possible (snow!) while acknowledging that the actual snowfall was a year before or behind (can’t recall which). That kind of transparency makes storytelling so much better!. We can accept it if we’re not expected to ignore fact without acknowledgment.
I think what I loved most about the book was that the author didn’t try to create conclusions that would alter history while presenting possibilities that, if proven, would. Add to that the sheer fun of juxtaposing Victorian London with Austin, Texas and two crimes that could have been connected, and you have a book you don’t want to put down.
If you enjoy true crime stories, Jack the Ripper stories, and clean fiction without the gore that usually goes with both of those, I think Kathleen Y’Barbo’s The Black Midnight is perfect for you. Not recommended for people who expect every historical reference to any person or event to be perfectly verifiable. This is a novel and is presented as one.
The Black Midnight is on tour with Celebrate Lit
About the Book
Book: The Black Midnight
Author: Kathleen Y’Barbo
Genre: Christian Historical Suspense
Release Date: August 2020
Death Seems to Follow Harriet’s New Friend
Book 7 in the True Colors series—Fiction Based on Strange-But True History
Three years before Jack the Ripper began his murderous spree on the streets of London, women were dying in their beds as The Midnight Assassin terrorized the citizens of Austin, Texas. Now, with suspicion falling on Her Majesty’s family and Scotland Yard at a loss as to who the Ripper might be, Queen Victoria summons her great-granddaughter, Alice Anne von Wettin, a former Pinkerton agent who worked the unsolved Austin case, and orders her to discreetly form a team to look into the London matter.
The prospect of a second chance to work with Annie just might entice Isaiah Joplin out of his comfortable life as an Austin lawyer. If his theories are right, they’ll find the The Midnight Assassin and, by default, the Ripper. If they’re wrong, he and Annie are in a bigger mess than the one the feisty female left behind when she departed Austin under cover of darkness three years ago.
Can the unlikely pair find the truth of who is behind the murders before they are drawn into the killer’s deadly game? From Texas to London, the story navigates the fine line between truth and fiction as Annie and Isaiah ultimately find the hunters have become the hunted.
About the Author
Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee of more than sixty novels with almost two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad.
More from Kathleen Y’Barbo
I am a tenth-generation Texan, but London has held a place in my heart for over ten years. You see, I have a son who has lived there for more than a decade. Thanks to him and his family of three—my granddaughter was born there on New Year’s Eve 2019—the city will always be special to me. There is absolutely nothing like walking those streets with a thousand years of history close enough to touch.
It was on a walk with my son through this great city that the stories of nineteenth-century London came alive. With fog shrouding the rooftops of buildings that were hundreds of years old and our footsteps echoing on the cobblestones, I could imagine a time when lack of electricity and CCTV would make this place less than charming on a dark night. What reminded me of my favorite childhood movie, Mary Poppins, quickly became more reminiscent of Jack the Ripper. And then a story was born.
Only I just had half the story.
The other half came to me several years later when I stumbled across an article in Texas Monthly magazine about a serial killer who rampaged through Austin, Texas in 1884 and 1885 and was never caught. Some surmised this madman, called “The Midnight Assassin” by some, might have been Jack the Ripper honing his skills before he crossed the Atlantic to begin his famous crime spree in Great Britain.
But Austin? Ironically, my other two sons lived in Austin. So while part of my heart was in London, two more parts of that same heart resided in the Texas capital. I thought I knew Austin inside out. Between one of my sons getting not one but two degrees from the University of Texas (this Aggie grad is still proud of him in spite of what I jokingly call his burnt orange rebellion) and my other son living there and managing a restaurant at the time (and who just graduated from Texas A&M Galveston last month!), I had spent many years in the city.
And yet I had never heard of the Midnight Assassin.
Research turned up a tale that sounds so close to fiction I had to write about it. Discovering the theory that the Austin killer might also be the Ripper just added to my interest—neither had been caught. And I like to write about Pinkerton detectives.
From there the story unfolded. If you’ve read any of my historical romances, you know that I love incorporating actual history into my stories. As you’ll see when you read The Black Midnight, this book is no exception. While I will continue writing the historical romances I love to bring to you, I will confess that writing this book has me itching to research another one like it.
What’s next in my foray into true crime novels? Maybe Houston. You see, I have a daughter who lives there…
In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy reading The Black Midnight as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 27
Genesis 5020, August 27
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 27
Inklings and notions, August 28
Locks, Hooks and Books, August 28
Ashley’s Bookshelf, August 28
Older & Smarter?, August 29
Texas Book-aholic, August 29
Artistic Nobody, August 29 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)
For the Love of Literature, August 30
Connie’s History Classroom, August 30
For Him and My Family, August 31
Adventures of a Travelers Wife, August 31
Betti Mace, September 1
Robin’s Nest, September 1
Bigreadersite, September 1
deb’s Book Review, September 2
Splashes of Joy, September 2
Just Your Average reviews, September 2
Rebecca Tews, September 3
Just the Write Escape, September 3
Emily Yager, September 3
Christian Bookaholic, September 4
reviewingbooksplusmore, September 4
KarenSueHadley, September 4
Remembrancy, September 5
Through the Fire Blogs, September 5
21st Century Keeper at Home, September 6
Tell Tale Book Reviews, September 6
Blogging With Carol, September 6
Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 7
Life of Literature, September 7
Mary Hake, September 7
Godly Book Reviews, September 8
Back Porch Reads, September 8
Daysong Reflections, September 8
Pause for Tales, September 9
Blossoms and Blessings, September 9
Hallie Reads, September 9
To celebrate her tour, Kathleen is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of The Black Midnight!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.