Book Review and Blog Tour: A Truth Most Treacherous (Cassie Gwynne #3) by Genevieve Essig

Title:         A Truth Most Treacherous

Author:     Genevieve Essig

Publication Day: August 15th, 2022

Buy Links: Amazon


Cassie Gwynne—cat lover, bookworm and daring detective—takes on her most challenging case yet…

Florida, 1884. It’s a new year and Cassie Gwynne is determined to be done with the unseemly business of murder. She’s made her resolution and she’s going to stick to it. Unfortunately, fate has other plans… The very next day, she happens upon the body of a newcomer to town—customs collector Chester Pence—floating beneath the boardwalk.

Never one to shy away from a puzzle, Cassie can’t resist getting involved in the investigation. It’s no secret that Chester made a number of enemies in his short time in Fernandina: confiscating a beleaguered bride’s wedding dress and a bossy businessman’s cigars among many other mean acts. It’s even rumored a well-to-do lady with a pampered dog has been leaving him nasty little parcels on his doorstep, but would she stoop as low as murder?

But Cassie’s only just gotten started on her suspect list when a witness comes forward and accuses one of Cassie’s close friends, Mr. Hu, of the crime. Much to her surprise, he confesses. She is convinced he is innocent. Is Mr. Hu protecting someone?

Cassie continues to investigate, but when she returns home one day to find her aunt’s beautiful house completely ransacked, she knows it’s a warning. Can Cassie uncover the truth, or will the killer ensure this is her final case?

A warm and witty Gilded Age cozy mystery with a heroine you’ll be obsessed with! Fans of Deanna Raybourn, Verity Bright and T.E. Kinsey won’t be able to put this down. 

My review:

When Cassie Gwynne stumbles across the dead body of thoroughly unpleasant customs collector Chester Pence in the marsh, no one is terribly torn up about his untimely demise. What Cassie is upset about, though, is that her dear friend Mr. Hu has confessed to the crime. She is confident that he’s innocent. But the official word is that, since they have a confession, no further investigation is needed. It’s up to Cassie to unravel the truth.

Genevieve Essig has written another delightful entry in the story of Cassie Gwynne! Cassie puts her considerable skills of observation and deduction to work yet again to solve a crime, and she does a bang-up job. She has the help of family and friends along the way, as well as a handful of colorful characters about town, and things are resolved satisfactorily.

Essig does a great job giving us a vivid picture of Florida in the late nineteenth century. She paints quite the portrait of anti-Chinese sentiment and shows how easy it would be for a corrupt operator like Pence to turn people against the town’s Chinese residents. Even people who might not have minded the Chinese folks who came to Fernandina started to give Mr. Hu and Mr. Green a bit of side-eye when Pence started throwing around his official weight with accusations of misconduct.

Not only is Cassie investigating this particular crime, but she’s still trying to learn more about what happened to her father. Her brother Burt is in New York, seeing what he can find out and hopefully staying out of harm’s way, but danger lurks for both Burt and Cassie. Has the Anti-Chinese Society followed Cassie to Fernandina, and if so, why?

In this book, we get more back story about Jake and Hughes as well as a jolly good mystery to solve. We meet Miss Victoria Phillips, an elegant young woman from Hughes’s past, and Cassie finds herself wondering if she imagined Hughes’s feelings for her. He doesn’t seem to be pushing Miss Phillips away, and his mother, the daunting Georgiana DeVries, certainly seems to be encouraging Hughes in Miss Phillips’ direction. There’s an entertaining side plot involving Miss Phillips wherein we learn that she may not be what she purports to be, and we see a new side of Mrs. DeVries as well. It was fun getting to learn more about some of the not-quite-front-and-center characters in the story.

With Cassie Gwynne, Genevieve Essig gives us a smart, resourceful heroine, a mystery with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing, insight into the social issue of racial discrimination, and a little bit of romance, too. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable, well-rounded read.

About the author:

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense I’d eventually try to be a writer. One need only examine my childhood, as any therapist will tell you, and look for the signs: On family vacations my poor mother, already on her last nerve as my father, the Botany Professor, drove us around winding mountain roads with one eye on the ground vegetation, constantly screamed at me to “stop reading and look at the scenery.” I assigned my books call numbers and insisted my friends “check them out” from my “library” (the fines for late returns were steep but, as it turned out, largely unenforceable). I wrote plays about forest fairies and figures from classical mythology and petitioned for special dispensation so I could stage them on the playground during lunch. My favorite school task was diagramming sentences.

So, when, many years later, I scaled back my other work to spend more time writing, no one really should have been surprised. Concerned for my sanity and financial well-being, maybe, but not surprised. And am I ever glad I did. I am truly blessed, and I make an effort every day to remember that.

What else… I’m half-Chinese and Florida-raised, Yale- and UVA- educated, and Chicago…buffed and polished? In any case, I now proudly call New Orleans home, and when I’m not writing or getting lost down research rabbit holes, I spend my time practicing law, shooting pool, performing operas and musicals, ogling old buildings, acting for film and television, futzing with inventions that address highly specific and possibly only-annoying-to-me problems, traveling, ranting at bartenders about the evils of straws, riding horses, and petting strange cats (though, since we’ve recently welcomed home a new kitten friend, Musette, I might need to cut back on that last).

Yeah, I know. 

If you have suggestions for additional hobbies or want to talk about my books, please message me, email me, or connect with me on social media (@essigauthor). You can also sign up for my email newsletter HERE.

One other thing about me: If you try to tell me the Oxford comma is wrong, I will fight you—before hugging you because I’m just so thrilled you care.

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