Sunday, August 3, 2014

Cozy Mystery Blog Tour Guest Post, Review & Giveaway: The Counterfeit Lady (The Victorian Bookshop Mystery #2) by Kate Parker

Who would suspect antiquarian bookseller Georgia Fenchurch of leading a double life—as a private investigator for the clandestine Archivist Society in Victorian London? When England’s national security is compromised, Georgia must pose as a titled lady to root out a spy…

A cousin of Georgia’s dear friend, Lady Phyllida Monthalf, is brutally murdered in her home during the theft of blueprints of a new battleship designed by her husband—who now stands accused of her murder…and treason. The Duke of Blackford, in service to Whitehall, enlists Georgia and the Archivist Society to assist in the investigation. Playing the part of the duke’s new paramour, Georgia gains entry into the upper echelons of London’s elite, where amidst elegant dinners and elaborate parties a master spy schemes to lay hands on the stolen plans.

The duke is no stranger to the world of international espionage, but Georgia is out of her element in more ways than one. She must not allow her genuine attraction to the duke—or her obsession with finding her parents’ killer—to distract her from her role. But when a mysterious stranger threatens to expose her, the counterfeit lady may be in real trouble.

Bismarck's Spies and The Counterfeit Lady
by Kate Parker

Georgia Fenchurch and the Archivist Society find themselves up against Europe's premier spy network in The Counterfeit Lady.  In the story, Germany's spymaster in England is Baron von Steubfeld.  In reality, Bismarck's espionage network across Europe was set up by an enterprising lawyer named Wilhelm Stieber.  

Bismarck's goal was to unify all the little German states under the Prussian king, with himself as chancellor.  To do this, he started three strategic small wars with Denmark, Austria, and France.  Before each one, Stieber went into the region and gathered information and built a spy network.  This helped Prussia win quickly and decisively, impressing the rulers of the little German states.  

Stieber's spy networks were made up of shopkeepers, servants, train personnel, and peddlers.  It is said he even set up brothels aimed at foreign soldiers in an attempt to learn the secrets of foreign armies.  

Once Germany was unified under the Prussian king, Bismarck continued to use Stieber's spy network.  Now this network was spread to every country in Europe, including Britain.  Because of Stieber's groundbreaking work, Germany was far ahead of every other country except Russia.  That was because Stieber set up their espionage apparatus, too! 

At one time early in his career, Stieber had to leave Prussia due to his dishonesty and he went to Russia.  There he helped set up Ohkrana, the foreign section of the Tsar's secret police that hunted down dissidents who had escaped Russia.  Ohkrana was the forerunner of the KGB.  Once a new king ruled Prussia, Stieber was free to return and built the German espionage network that was of great use in both world wars.  It's not an overstatement to say Stieber, who died in 1882, greatly affected events for the next century.  

He also affected events in The Counterfeit Lady. 

Baron von Steubfeld, my Prussian spymaster, wants the plans to the warship designed by the foremost British naval architect.  When a murder occurs and a set of the plans disappear, the British government suspects the baron of playing a role in these events.  They put a watch on the German embassy and tail the employees, including von Steubfeld.  

If the plans make it to a foreign government, Britain will lose her new-found advantage over other countries' navies.  And in the late 1890s, no nation wanted to gain on Britain's navy as much as Germany did.  The Duke of Blackford, often called on by Queen Victoria and her government in a crisis, brings in Georgia Fenchurch and the Archivist Society.  

The duke has a special role in mind for Georgia.  He plans for her to take center stage in his plot to retrieve the ship design before it can leave the country.  That means Georgia must cross paths with the baron and his friends at every opportunity.  

Georgia is more concerned with finding the murderer, because the victim is a cousin of her good friend Lady Phyllida.  But the supposed killer is already behind bars.  He's the naval architect of the missing plans and the husband of Lady Phyllida's cousin.  Lady Phyllida doesn't believe he's the killer, which makes Georgia suspect Baron von Steubfeld orchestrated both the theft and the murder.  

Now it's up to the Duke of Blackford to turn Georgia into The Counterfeit Lady, available August 5th from Berkley Prime Crime.  

Kate began reading Agatha Christie mysteries and the Nancy Drew books while her classmates were reading Dick and Jane. She particularly likes historical mysteries and the feeling of time travel a good historical book can give the reader. Combined with her love of late Victorian to World War II architecture and fashions, she found an outlet for the stories and characters that fill her head by writing The Victorian Bookshop Mysteries.


What a unique treasure!  When I read The Counterfeit Lady, I wasn't really sure what to expect (given the fact that I had not read the first book in the series).  But after cracking it open, I was blown away by how detailed and well written it was.  

Georgia is the "heroine" of the story.  She's a very bright, intelligent woman with a great sense of humor.  She's a perfect fit for working with the Archivist Society, and a wonderful character to follow.  I enjoyed her charm. 

The story itself has a romantic feel to it - perhaps because of it's setting.  And while it begins with a slow, building pace, the story literally comes to life off of the pages, right before your eyes.  

Ms. Parker has a new fan in this reader, and I am looking forward to reading the first book in the series, as well as any future installments she has in store for us.  

Rating: 4.5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own.  

Thanks to the awesome ladies at Penguin, I have 1 paperback copy of The Counterfeit Lady by Kate Parker to give away to one of my lucky readers!  Just enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win, and be sure to keep checking back for more awesome giveaways! 

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