The Deadly Hours

Written by Anna Lee Huber C.S. Harris Christine Trent Susanna Kearsley
Review by Susan McDuffie

The four novellas that comprise The Deadly Hours span the years 1733 to 1945. A fabulous gold pocket watch, La Sirène, made with cursed gold from the sack of Cartagena in 1697, brings evil to its possessor, and can only be destroyed by passing through the four elements: water, earth, air, and fire. The novellas recount tales of some of the people affected by the watch over the years.

“Weapon of Choice,” by Kearsley, opens off the coast of Italy in 1733. An unexpected storm interrupts the travels of newlyweds Hugh and Mary MacPherson. Forced to stay in Portofino, they meet other Jacobite expatriates, and learn of a plot to assassinate the Duke of Ormonde. Huber’s contribution, “In a Fevered Hour,” finds Lady Darby and her husband Sebastian Gage searching for the cursed timepiece, which could be at the root of a mysterious illness claiming lives in 1800s Edinburgh. Some years later Christine Trent’s Victorian undertaker Violet Harper carries the rediscovered watch to London in “A Pocketful of Death,” and murder quickly follows. Harris’s “Siren’s Call” takes us to WWII, and the part La Sirène plays in this worldwide conflict.

The authors’ collaboration tells four distinct yet related stories, tantalizing glimpses into the different worlds and people La Sirène impacts as the curse plays out. Three of the novellas refer to characters the authors established in previous works, while C. S. Harris’s offering introduces completely new players. The four tales combine to create one riveting read, a wonderful diversion to pleasantly while away your own hours. Recommended.