The stack of magazines hadn’t interested me at first, but after reading everything else my aunt had brought to our desert hacienda, my thirteen-year-old self was bored. So, I dragged them out and discovered among the Good Housekeeping and Better Homes & Gardens magazines, there were others—True Crime.
People robbed and killed for all kinds of reasons—jealousy, money, even so-called love. I remember one story about a guy who killed a brother or cousin or some relation like that because the other person had inherited a coveted snuff box. My granny had dipped snuff since she was an infant—true story! But for another day.
I knew about snuff and all its nastiness.
No snuff box was worth going to the trouble of murder much less the consequences of it!
Years later, I found a few true crime books at a garage sale and bought them. I expected hours of exciting reading, but the gruesome details were too much for me.
So, when Barbour started their True Colors Historical Crime series, I was excited. The White City and The Pink Bonnet were both intriguing stories with an emphasis on more than just the crimes. They took a look into the lives those crimes could have affected.
Obviously, when I had the opportunity to request a free review copy of The Yellow Lantern, I had to say yes, right?
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How The Yellow Lantern Grabbed My Attention Immediately
Like the others in the series, the black and white cover with its single pop of color captures your interest and makes you want to know more. What about a lantern could possibly be related to a crime?
Well, the subject matter might beg for one. I mean, grave robbers and bodysnatchers? EEEP!
Painting a picture as creepy as you could hope for without being the thing of nightmares (it doesn’t go that far), The Yellow Lantern has a strong opening that makes you instantly sympathetic to the main character.
That’s important because part of the story didn’t work for me. Most of the book is absolutely wonderful, but Josie/Josephine spends most of the book trying to convince us why she is going along with this scheme. The words make sense on paper—without it, her father is in trouble. Unfortunately, that doesn’t show for some reason.
I spent most of the book ignoring her protestations that she must do what she doesn’t want to do and just focused on relationships and how they were going to put a stop to this body-snatching business.
And that part of the book was excellent.
In fact, I loved the characterization of all except one of the antagonists. He was a little “too evil” if you will. I saw where Dicken worked to show why he would consider himself “the hero of his version of the story,” but I never “got there” with it.
Written in a beautiful blend of modern casual with enough historical flair to keep it from being anachronistic feeling, The Yellow Lantern offers a well-written story of disappointment, determination, and a tiny bit of detective work. Only a few small things pulled me from the story—the way Josie called her employer by his first name relatively early and his terms of endearment before any formal declaration had been made. Even in America in 1824 among factory workers and managers, that is a bit… casual, from my research.
But it’s minor, and frankly, the way Barbour seems to love short books, I imagine it was necessary. What Dicken did brilliantly was make a relatively short book (I’m guessing 65k at most) feel like a much longer story without ever letting it drag.
While I did read the synopsis, I didn’t catch the year the book was meant to take place. With it featuring factory work and a girl wearing a “shirtwaist,” I imagined late 19th/early 20th century. That made for some confusing moments until the date fully hit my mind.
That’s just past the Regency period! It took time for me to wrap my brain around that.
The only other thing I think the book lacks is a connection to a known criminal. Unlike the other two books in the series, this isn’t about a specific person but a type of crime.
Absolutely not sorry that I requested a free review copy and I’m thrilled to say that I really liked the book. I could have loved it but for a few things. Now I’ve found another author I need to read more of. Angie Dicken pairs well-written and tempered description with an engaging plot and delightful characters to keep you riveted to the page.
About the Book
Book: The Yellow Lantern
Author: Angie Dicken
Genre: Christian Historical/Suspense
Release Date: August 2019
Josephine Is Forced to Spy for Grave Robbers
Step into True Colors—a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime
In Massachusetts in 1824, Josephine Clayton awakes on the table of the doctor she’s assisted all these months. She was presumed dead by all and has become the doctor’s next corpse for his medical research. Frightened, the doctor tries to kill her, but Josephine begs to be spared.
A deal is struck—Josie will leave her village and work at a distant cotton mill. All the while, she’ll await her true mission—posing as a mourner to help his body snatcher procure her replacement.
At the mill though, Josie is praised for her medical remedies among the mill girls, gaining attention from the handsome factory manager Braham Taylor. Yet, when Braham’s own loved one becomes the prey for the next grave robbing, Josie must make a choice that could put her dark past behind her or steal away the promise of any future at all.
What price will Josie pay for love when her secrets begin to unravel?