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After starting out in science fiction and fantasy, Lillian Stewart Carl is now writing contemporary novels blending mystery, romance, and fantasy, along with short mystery and fantasy stories. Her work often includes paranormal themes. It always features plots based on history and archaeology. While she doesn’t write comedy, she believes in characters with a sense of humor.
Her fantasies are set in a mythological, alternate-history Mediterranean and India. Her
contemporary novels are set in Texas, in Ohio, in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, and in England
Of her Shadows in Scarlet, Publishers Weekly says: "Presenting a delicious mix of romance and
supernatural suspense, Carl (Ashes to Ashes) delivers yet another immensely readable tale. She
has created an engaging cast and a very entertaining plot, spicing the mix with some interesting twists on the ghostly romantic suspense novel."
Of her Lucifer's Crown, Library Journal says: "Blending historical mystery with a touch of the supernatural, the author creates an intriguing exploration of faith and redemption in a world that is at once both modern and timeless.
Among many other novels, Lillian is the author of the Jean Fairbairn/Alasdair Cameron cross-genre
mystery series: America’s exile and Scotland’s finest on the trail of all-too-living legends. Of The Secret Portrait, Kirkus says: Mystery, history and sexual tension blend with a taste of the wild beauty of the Highlands. Of The Burning Glass, Publishers Weekly says: "Authentic dialect, detailed descriptions of the castle and environs, and vivid characters recreate an area rich in history and legend. The tightly woven plot is certain to delight history fans with its dramatic collision of past and present."
With John Helfers, Lillian co-edited The Vorkosigan Companion, a retrospective on Lois McMaster Bujold’s science fiction work, which was nominated for a Hugo award.
Her first story collection, Along the Rim of Time, was published in 2000, and her second, The
Muse and Other Stories of History, Mystery, and Myth, in 2008, including three stories that were
reprinted in Year's Best mystery anthologies.
Her books are available in both print and electronic editions, and her web site is
on Nov. 17, 2014 :
Always on the lookout for new mysteries novels, I chanced upon The Secret Portrait and decided to give it a try. Set in the modern Highlands of Scotland, the scenery immediately lends itself to an uncomfortable sense of danger and tragedy. Combined with a cast of suspects that were not the paper thin characters of many mysteries, it quenched my thirst for intrigue.
As stated by some other reviewers the story does seem to suffer from lag at the beginning, the device of the gold coin initially weak and possibly not used to its greatest potential. However it does its job good enough to force the meeting of the characters for a classic murder to occur. The depth of the characters overcomes any shortfalls, and we eagerly follow the burgeoning relationship between journalist Jean Fairbairn and Detective Chief Inspector Cameron as they try and solve the crime.
The mystery itself is what you hope for in this kind of book, challenging enough to keep you interested but not overly complicated. I liked it and will most likely continue on with more in the series.
(reviewed long after purchase)