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Saturday, February 11, 2023

Book Review: A Portrait of Death (Versipellis Mysteries #1) by Rhen Garland

A Portrait of Death (Versipellis Mysteries #1)
by Rhen Garland
July 12, 2021
Genre: supernatural, historical fantasy, gaslamp

Immortal detectives Elliott Caine and Abernathy Thorne have spent centuries searching through time for the reincarnations of their murdered wives. As their quest continues, they use their many lifetimes of knowledge to solve Gothic mysteries that can be unsettling, and sometimes terrifying.

Never before have they been faced with a case like this.

The great and the good are gathered for the social event of the season, but the evening comes to a horrifying halt when the mutilated remains of two men are discovered artistically displayed in the portrait gallery. As Caine and Thorne begin their investigations, they uncover more than the usual murderous web of intrigue, espionage, and treason.

An ancient evil is stalking ever closer, intent on finding that which they seek.

Where does the mysterious agent Versipellis fit into the case? And who is the shadowy figure watching Caine and Thorne with such interest?

Find out who, when, why, what, and how in this very Victorian murder mystery; the first instalment in a new Gaslamp fantasy series that drips with elements of Gothic mystery, historical urban fantasy, and rather a lot of blood as we follow the exploits of immortal Victorian detectives Elliott Caine and Abernathy Thorne in the latter stages of the Victorian world.

"As soon as you start reading, it gets you hooked, and you just can't put it down."

"Wonderful twists and turns in the story line kept me wanting to read what happened next."

"A great debut novel from an author with an amazing imagination." - Katylou 1966

The Versipellis Mysteries, a Gaslamp Gothic series by Rhen Garland, follows the investigative adventures and misadventures of the immortal detective duo Elliott Caine and Abernathy Thorne. The premier book in the series, A Portrait of Death, ties several seemingly disparate scenarios together as a mystery unfolds during a weekend house party at the country estate of Lord Foster Marmis. A cast of characters has assembled for the gathering. When two savagely murdered bodies are discovered, all guests become suspects giving the story a bit of a Clue vibe.

Caine and Thorne are mysterious immortals, the overall logistics of which I did not quite understand by the book’s end. The story has all the trappings of a traditional Sherlock Holmes-style mystery mixed with the supernatural. Crane summarizes the book’s tone best when he remarks, “If you want esoteric reasoning, read Sherlock Holmes. If you want fast and a little more than mere esotericism – maybe even mysticism – come to me and I shall give you your fill!”

A Portrait of Death combines several genres weaving together political intrigue, murder, and a larger background storyline, including a subtle romance yet to unfold. I found it to be unique, witty, and entertaining. The book has a strong horror sensibility with grotesquely vivid descriptions such as “his organs left to hang where they chose; some of them hadn’t stayed the course and rested in a foul-smelling, viscous puddle against the side of the wooden prop.” The visceral descriptions, simultaneously ghastly and coolly academic, might prove too much for some readers. I intend to read the two subsequent installments in this intriguing series.

Four Sheep

Bianca Greenwood

About the Author:
Rhen Garland is the author of the Versipellis Mysteries; Gaslamp fantasy mysteries set in the late Victorian era that follow the investigations of immortal detectives Elliott Caine and Abernathy Thorne as they search for the reincarnations of their murdered wives...and solve a few mysteries along the way.

Settle in with one of Rhen's books and enter a vivid world of Victorian house parties, supernatural murders, charming killers, gleaming airships, plentiful corpses, and chilled champagne.

Enjoy lashings of the paranormal following the adventures of two very special investigators whose talents for solving paranormal mysteries carry them across the world and sets them against immortals with grudges, killers who are more than human, and the occasional human who is more than they appear.

Did we mention Thorne has a Labrador with a very peculiar secret?

Like most authors, Rhen loves Prosecco, tea, hot buttered crumpets, and reviews.

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