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The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne by Elsa Hart

A Victorian murder mystery with a strong female sleuth


Synopsis:Cecily Kay can hold her own in the world of elite specimen collectors, a world dominated by men in the 1700’s. When she goes to work with the formidable and well known collector Sir Barnaby Mayne in London, she could not have imagined the predicament she finds herself in. Sir Barnaby’s collections are extensive, and his cabinets of specimens are infamous among other serious collectors. Cecily’s passion is plants and she hoped to study Sir Baraby’s rare collections, but when he is murdered, Cecily’s time in the Mayne household takes a turn and she begins to investigate his death.


My thoughts/feelings:This book is a Victorian murder mystery set in the world of intellectual collectors and is full of suspense and intrigue with a strong female lead. I enjoyed reading about the specimens and appreciate the extensive research required to write a book like this. I found the characters to be delightful and loved that the main females were strong and independent. Victorian age stories are always full of beautiful imagery and I cannot get enough of them!


I love to have a laugh at the lines that pay homage to the Victorian ways of thinking such as when Lady Mayne is discussing coffee. She says, “The coffee comes from that part of the world, doesn’t it?” Lady Mayne waved a weary hand. “I believe the coffee is much to blame for these obsessions that overcome gentlemen of intelligence. The drink exerts its will not only over the mind, but over the passage of time. They go into those coffee houses together and become so lost in idle speculation that they forget their families, their devotions, and their duties."


Favorite Quotes:

“I think it is unwise to follow a path leading from a murder into the realm of the collectors. It is a shadowy place full of illusions. And it isn’t safe.”


“Why,” she said, “did he have to have acquire so much?” “Because,” said Cecily, “if his goal was to keep a record of the whole world and its history, where was he to stop?”


“Not to trust too quickly is a lesson that has been impressed upon me a little deeper with each passing year."


"It’s the two of us together, now. We’re going to find the villain, and we’re going to make it very clear that we are not such little creatures after all.”


"I wonder if a stone remembers what it has seen."


"You cannot make a record of the world without looking at the bad as well as the good."



Thank you so much to NetGalley, Minotaur Books and Elsa Hart for the advanced copy of The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne in exchange for my honest review.


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