Still Life with Murder : Nell Sweeney

  • by P.B. Ryan
  • Narrated by Leigh Ryan
  • Series: Nell Sweeney
  • 9 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Boston, 1868: The dawn of the Gilded Age, an era of burgeoning commerce and invention, of unimaginable new fortunes and lavish excess—for some. Born into dismal poverty, young Nell Sweeney scratches by on her wits and little else until fortune blesses her with a position as nursery governess to the fabulously wealthy Hewitts. But she soon learns that ugly secrets lurk beneath the surface of their gold-plated world.
The Hewitts’ eldest son, William, a former Union Army battle surgeon and the black sheep of the family, was reported to have died three years before in a notorious Confederate prison camp. But one snowy February afternoon, his parents learn that he is, in fact, still alive—and in jail for having murdered a man while intoxicated on opium. Infuriated by his son’s deception and convinced of his guilt, August Hewitt forbids his wife from coming to Will’s aid, so she begs Nell to help exonerate him. Nell finds that she must delve into the kind of dark and treacherous underworld she thought she’d left far behind if she is to unearth the truth before the hangman’s noose tightens around William Hewitt’s throat.


What the Critics Say

"A beautiful combination of entertaining characters, minute historical research, and a powerful evocation of time and place. I'm very glad there will be more to come." (New York Times best-selling author, Barbara Hambly)
"P.B. Ryan makes a stunning debut with Still Life With Murder...I can't wait for the next installment." (Best-selling author, Victoria Thompson)
"If you like fast-moving, accurately drawn, historical mysteries, you won't go wrong by trying Still Life With Murder." (Reviewing the Evidence)


See More Like This

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Gilded Age in Boston--excellent mystery!

P B Ryan has written this mystery series set in the 1860's wealthy area of Boston. Ryan parallels Nell's own entrance into the book with her assistance to Dr. Greaves who is managing a particularly difficult delivery. Afterwards, it turns out that the maid who gave birth doesn't want to keep the baby, so it is wealthy Viola Hewitt, wheelchair-bound, grieving the loss of two sons in the Civil War, who decides to adopt the infant. She hires Nell to be governess, and so the connections between Nell Sweeney and the Boston Brahmin Hewitts begin.

Very quickly into the story, there is a murder, and reason to think that William Hewitt, one of the sons long thought dead, is the killer. Viola is desperate to find out if it is her lost son, so secretly sends Nell to the jail to find out. This will eventually lead the curious Irish immigrant girl back into places she thinks she has gotten away from, as she cannot resist investigating the murder on her own.

This is a book I read previously, and enjoyed comparing the written version with the narrated one. In the beginning, I was not too fond of Leigh Ryan's reading of some of it. But as the book moves along, I think her narration gets much better. I find her voice a bit soft and gentle for parts of it, but she did very well with the Irish accents, and Nell herself. This is an interesting book, which is why I wanted to re-read (hear) it. I like the author's skill with dialogue, with creating good characters, maintaining a good flow and fascinating details, and just the right amount of tension. I think this is an excellent beginning to the series. Recommend!
Read full review

- Kathi "Love books! Classics and lighter fiction, mysteries (not too violent please :-). And selective non-fiction--whatever takes my fancy."

Outstanding mystery and narration!

If you could sum up Still Life with Murder in three words, what would they be?

Thrilling, compelling page-turner!

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

The combination of terrific writing, a well-crafted plot, and exquisite narration added up to a delightful listening/reading experience. I didn't want it to end.

Which character – as performed by Leigh Ryan – was your favorite?

My favorite was Nell Sweeney, the sleuth. I'd never experienced Leigh Ryan's narration before, but now I'm going to look for her name! Her voice quality is lovely and easy to listen to, she reads with feeling, she handles accents well, and she manages to differentiate between different speakers smoothly and clearly. Unlike some female narrators who rough up their voices to do male characters, Ms. Ryan was able to indicate a male voice in a much more listenable (and nondistracting!) way. Altogether, a great choice of narrator for this book.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I wish I could! I listen in the car during my commute, but this book and narrator were so good, I continued to listen after I got home. I almost never do that.

Any additional comments?

Only that I'm eager to listen to the rest of the series!

Read full review

- Consequences Schmonsequences "Daffy"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-15-2014
  • Publisher: Patricia Ryan