Format Read: Kindle book
Source: the author in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: April 15, 2014
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Blurb from goodreads:
Take tea with the Victorian Mafia – organized crime has never been so civilized
Revenge is a dish best served cold. At the Lamb residence, it is also served on fine bone china.
The untimely demise of Thaddeus Lamb leaves his son Riley in charge of the vast Lamb empire, which imports tea, picks pockets, extorts, and keeps men warm on cold winter's nights. And so the Lambs grieve for their father in the best way they know how… Retribution.
Hired by the new head of the Fox Family, a position recently vacated by another untimely demise, the assassin O'Murtagh is tasked with the utter destruction of all the Lamb Family's business associates. They learn the hard way that there is no better hit man than a beautiful woman with tricks and weapons up her finely coiffed sleeves.
Treachery and deceit abound in the streets of London, and no one is safe. Honestly, it's enough to make anyone drink. Would you care for one lump or two?
"Memento Mori" was a fun, smart, tightly written thriller with a snarky sense of humor. It pulled me in right from the start and kept me reading until I finished. I did have to take time out from reading to get a few hours of sleep and go to work otherwise I would have read it straight through.
The story follows O'Murtagh, an assassin with no known family, and the Lamb brothers, Riley and Kavanagh. The Lamb family is a major crime family who is under attack, both personally and professionally. As they hunt the people responsible, O'Murtagh is on a parallel path, hired by a different crime family to eliminate criminals they believe have betrayed them. Their paths intersect several times but it's not until the end of the story that all of the threads and plot lines come together. There are no traditional good guys in this story; O'Murtagh and the Lambs are unrepentant criminals. But they aren't all bad, each of them has good qualities, and I found all three to be likable. Granted, some of the violence made me squirm, but much of it is implied.
O'Murtagh is smart, compassionate, ruthless, skilled, and a little lonely. Orphaned early on, she has no family and few friends. Despite her line of work, she has both compassion and empathy. She takes pleasure in killing one man, one of her targets, who belittles and terrorizes his wife and daughters and she's pleased when the wife, now widow, asserts herself and improves her life after his death. Riley and Kavanagh are devoted to their family, particularly their mother. You may disagree with how they protect her but you can't argue with their devotion or their loyalty. Kavanagh is an inventor, tinkerer, and bit of a geek. Mrs. Lamb seems a caricature at first but gradually O'Dowd reveals layers to her and fleshes her out.
The story was absolutely delightful; twisty, intriguing, and a seamless blend of crime, soap opera, a touch of steampunk, humor, and solid characterization. I guessed at a few events and plot twists but even so, there was little that was predictable and the story kept me turning the pages to see what happened. Go get your copy now!