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Still Life with Murder (Nell Sweeney Mystery Series, #1)

Still Life with Murder (Nell Sweeney Mystery Series, #1)

4.1 626
by P.B. Ryan

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"What a thoroughly charming book! A beautiful combination of entertaining characters, minute historical research, and a powerful evocation of time and place." -NYT bestselling author Barbara Hambly

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 poverty,


"What a thoroughly charming book! A beautiful combination of entertaining characters, minute historical research, and a powerful evocation of time and place." -NYT bestselling author Barbara Hambly

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 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 years before in a notorious Confederate prison. But one snowy February afternoon, his parents learn that he is, in fact, still alive-and in jail for having murdered a man while 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.

Still Life with Murder is a #1 national bestseller originally published by Berkley Prime Crime. 91K words.

"P.B. Ryan makes a stunning debut with Still Life with Murder, bringing Nineteenth Century Boston alive, from its teeming slums to the mansions on Boston Common, and populating it with a vivid and memorable cast of characters... I couldn't put the book down... I can't wait for the next installment." -Bestselling author Victoria Thompson

"P.B. Ryan captures an authentic flavor of post-Civil War Boston... The atmosphere is that of The Alienist, but feisty Irish nursemaid Nell Sweeney is a more likable protagonist. I look forward to seeing her in action again." -New York Times bestselling author Rhys Bowen

"Still Life with Murder is a skillfully written story of intrigue and murder set during Boston's famous Gilded Age. Nell Sweeney is a winning heroine gifted with common sense, grit, and an underlying poignancy. With its rich sense of place and time and a crisp, intelligent plot, readers will speed through this tale and be clamoring for more." -Bestselling author Earlene Fowler

"Utterly absorbing. Vividly alive characters in a setting so clearly portrayed that one could step right into it. A very clever plot in which each clue is clearly offered and yet the identity of the murderer is a complete surprise." -Bestselling author Roberta Gellis

"If you like fast moving, accurately drawn, historical mysteries, you won't go wrong by trying Still Life with Murder." -Reviewing the Evidence

"This debut mystery is a winner, with a feisty heroine, a colorful historical backdrop and a strong mystery rife with complexities. An ideal blend of history and mystery." -RT BookReviews

"Still Life with Murder is sheer perfection... gripping... powerful... unforgettable... You'll know you've read one hell of a story after you turn the last page!" -Reader to Reader Reviews

Product Details

Hawkley Books
Publication date:
Nell Sweeney Mystery Series , #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Patricia Ryan, a.k.a. P.B. Ryan, is the USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen novels, including the #1 national bestseller Still Life with Murder. Pat's books have garnered rave reviews and been published in over twenty countries. She is currently writing book 1 of a "spin-off" of the Nell Sweeney mystery series. Visit her at pb-ryan.com.

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Still Life With Murder 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 626 reviews.
CMACND More than 1 year ago
Still Life With Murder by P.B. Ryan is the first book in a series about an irish catholic governess and her life with the family that employs her and their son that was thought to be dead. It is a mystery series with Nell( the governess) acting as an amateur detective alongside Will ( the son that pretended to be dead). Nell is harboring a dark secret when Viola, her employer, gets news that her son is alive and in jail for murder. She sends Nell to go investigate and thus starts the beautiful but complicated relationship between Will and Nell. As Nell tries to figure out what really happened the night that Will alledgedly killed someone, she uncovers secrets about the town and Will's past. She and Will also have a chemistry that isn't easily ignored but they do their best.This book is for anyone who loves mystery.Set in Boston right after the Civil war, this is a fast-paced mystery thriller that involves crime, love, secrets, and death.
MadderByTheMinute More than 1 year ago
This was a very quick read with great characters. Purchased the 2nd in the series as soon as I finised the first.
VRC More than 1 year ago
I really loved this book. As someone fully enthralled with the Victorian era, I really was not disappointed. Ms. Ryan has certainly done her research. Nell may have some modern sensibilities, but I didn't think they were out of place here. Considering her background, her unique situation, she might very well have been one of the women (a few decades later) to bring about reforms for women. The dark horse, a flawed hero if ever there was one (or is he a hero at all?) is an accomplishment in characterisation. Complicated, dark, brooding, an addict, and yet we root for him as if he were one of our nearest and dearest. I found the solution to the mystery completely unexpected, the twists and turns breathtaking. I'm looking forward to reading all the books in this series. I haven't been able to put them down since I started just a few days ago. It's been a long time since I was hooked like this. Well done, Ms. Ryan! You have a fan in me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was totally different from my normal read. I found this book to be well written and captivating. All mystery readers try to figure "Who Dun it", not until the end did I expect and even then there was a twist. I have already ordered the next book in the series. ENJOY!
TexasStarVA More than 1 year ago
Nell Sweeney is a girl with a past that must remain hidden. Her strong sense of values and willingness to risk herself to help others make her a likeable heroine. These six novels are a wonderful window into Victorian Boston, and how the people of that era faced problems similar to today's issues - like high unemployment, discrimination, crime and drug abuse. Very enjoyable and unexpected. Highly recommended!
lcpsoccermom More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent historical mystery set in Boston, MA after the civil war. It is the first in a series. The main character is Nell Sweeney who is a governess for a wealthy family in Boston. Her story is interesting and the murder mystery takes many twists and turns. I was surprised at the ending, though it did feel slightly rushed. Excellent story, great writing, and interesting characters. We are introduced to Will Hewitt, the black sheep son of her employer who is accused of murder. He is former surgeon and current opium addict. Highly recommend this to anyone who likes mysteries or historical fiction. I am looking forward to reading more in this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like reading about Civil War history, very much enjoyed reading this fiction history/mystery book. Unexpected ending. Purchased next book in the series.
DixieMac More than 1 year ago
Fantastic book! I was very drawn into the story and found myself wanting to know more about the characters. I am looking very much forward to reading more!
dd28 More than 1 year ago
Absolutely loved this book. Story had a good main plot and logically developed the solving of the murder. Looking forward to reading more from this author.
harstan More than 1 year ago
After their mother died from cholera and their father ran off with another woman, the three Sweeney children are sent to the Barnstable County Poor House where the youngest died from diphtheria. Nell fell in love with her brother¿s thieving friend Duncan, but he turned out to be an abusive person who hurt her so badly that she needed extensive medical care proved by Dr. Greaves. In time, she became his mistress and apprentice until the day they delivered the baby of a Hewitt servant.

Viola Hewitt adopts the child and hires Nell to be the baby¿s governess. Viola sweeps Nell into the world of the Boston Brahmin. After working there for four years, word arrives that the eldest son, thought to have died in a confederate prison camp, awaits trial for cold-blooded murder. Viola asks Nell to find evidence that will set her oldest son free since his father doesn¿t care if he hangs. Nell risks everything to clear Will because she believes he is innocent despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Post-Civil War Boston is an interesting place to be as the scars from the fighting though distant from the city still linger in unexpected places. Nell is a woman of mystery who hides secrets that she hasn¿t revealed which should be disclosed in future books. The heroine is a spunky woman who climbed out of a poverty-stricken and crime infested area to make something of herself. Readers will admire her and won¿t be able to resist her many charms. STILL LIFE WITH MURDER is a well-constructed and fascinating mystery in what looks to be a great series.

Harriet Klausner

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bought this book because it was $.99. It was so good I kept going and I have one more left to read in the series. I was not sure if I would read the whole series because usually I do not enjoy the other books as much as the first. I have loved all of the books thus far and recommend buying the bundle if you enjoy this book! Loved that the main characters remained the same with a different story & mystery in each. Nell is a captivating young woman and secrets of the past are revealed throughout the series.
bambi748 More than 1 year ago
It takes a little to get to know the charaters but once you do turns out to be real good books. Enjoyed it very much.
DorieUebel More than 1 year ago
The start of a great historical series with a romance included.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
needed editing to move it along but the basic story line was interesting but never quite reached intriguing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very disappointed with author P B Ryan and her book, Still Life Murder. Stopped reading what seemed like an interesting story line, but found there was too much cursing and taking the Lord's name in vain. I've wasted my money by buying her first two books thinking I would enjoy them. I will delete them from my NOOK, and Books to Read List with a reminder note to myself not to purchase anymore of P B Ryan's books. In the English language, there are 40 some curse words and 800,000+ English words. Patricia Ryan chooses to spatter her writing skill using curse words over and over. What a waste!!! I rate an author's talent by how well he/she can tell a story without swearing or writing vivid sexual scenes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was very well written and edited. The characters were delightful, especially Nell. I would like to read the rest of the Nell Sweeney Murder Series but won't due to the regular usage of taking the Lord's name in vain. I believe a good writer can deliver without dropping the standards. We do set examples to all of our readers, especially the younger ones.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a different time and place. Interesting characters and makes me want to read more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Poor editing - fonts change, spacing too. Very annoying. Story drawn out, if tightened would hold readers interest.
Mona Bultena More than 1 year ago
I am looking foreard to Nell's next adventure.
LarkspurLaura More than 1 year ago
Well written murder mystery set in post-Civil War Boston. Some details seem unlikely, and I could have done without the painstaking description of opium smoking. But overall a good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great read, well written - wonderful plot/mystery, characters, and history.
Lori2013 More than 1 year ago
Great book! Beautifully written with an interesting storyline. If the remaining books in the series are half as good as this one, I won't be disappointed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book. Never expected who did it.
christi5776 More than 1 year ago
Very good book! It was a page turner and kept me absorbed. I would definitely read more books from this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really Loved this book! Love the characters,real page turner currently reading the 2nd in this series and looking forward to more.