Review: 'A Promise of Ruin' is a historical mystery that resonates with 21st century

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Dr. Genevieve Summerford made her first appearance in July 2016 when it was published by Sourcebooks Landmark. “In A Deadly Affection,” Genevieve’s drive to help people, her struggle with classism and her struggle to prevent herself from falling in love, a prospect that rarely works in books like this, delighted this reader.

Dr. Summerford visited again this summer between the covers of “A Promise of Ruin,” the latest mystery in the Dr. Genevieve Summerford Mystery series by Cuyler Overholt. Genevieve is full that same fire and determination in “A Promise of Ruin” that won me over in “A Deadly Affection.”

The topics touched on in “A Promise of Ruin” may walk a fine line for some readers — sex abuse, child abuse and sex trafficking. These are not easy topics to read and Overholt doesn’t shy away from affects of mental and physical abuse and the cultural implications of the time period, which still resonate today if one follows the latest headlines. Overholt just scratched the surface of all that could be touched on in relation to these topics, she does so in a way that seems realistic and evokes emotion from the reader.

The other characters that populate Genevieve’s world are just as real and tenacious as she is. Simon, Genevieve’s love interest, struggles with his own masculinity as Genevieve strives to forward her position and ideas in a world that traditionally does not allow women to be so outspoken. Pauline and Angela, who run a home for ‘fallen’ women, help Genevieve out immensely and show Genevieve she is not alone in trying to make the world a better place. It was a relief for Genevieve to have a connection with other women bucking tradition as sometimes it feels she is awfully alone in her crusade.

The second installment in the Dr. Genevieve Summerford Mystery series is just as delightful as the first. Overholt continues to write historical mysteries that resonate into 21st century.

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