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.

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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)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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!

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- Consequences Schmonsequences

I was swept away by Nell's search for the truth...

What did you love best about Still Life with Murder?

Still Life with Murder is the first book of an amazing mystery series which follows governess, Nell Sweeney, as she goes through 1860s Boston, looking to uncover the truth about a grisly murder that is tied to the upper-class family she works for. I was thrilled to see that it was now an audiobook, and I had so much fun listening to this story again.


What about Leigh Ryan’s performance did you like?

Leigh Ryan captured Nell's voice magnificently, and her impressive stock of characters and dialects wove seamlessly into the story. Really lovely voice, I can't wait to see how she handles the rest of the series.


Any additional comments?

If you like a rich historical mystery with unexpected twists, Still Life with Murder is a wonderful read, and an exciting listen!

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- Piper

Book Details

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