Book Review: The Sporting House Killing by G. Reading Powell


The Details: 

The Sporting House Killing by G. Reading Powell
Published: April 2021
Publisher: Self
Genre: Historical Fiction, Murder Mystery, Courtroom Drama
Pages: 358
Available: paperback, ebook

Sex: 💗No. Murder victim is a prostitute 
Violence: ðŸ˜² Nothing graphic

The Review:

Reviewers Note: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The plot in brief: No spoilers. A lady of the night is killed in her room. At the foot of her bed is a naked college student with no memory of the murder. A travelling preacher is stirring up the town, railing against The Reservation, home to whore houses and bars. A distinguished defense lawyer is asked by an old friend to defend his son, who claims innocence. As the town folk call for blood, Catfish Calloway must use his every skill to save his client's life. 

The Characters: From the opening pages, the characters in the book come to life. Two college boys sneak out of their dorms in search of beer and more. Their world is turned upside down and it is clear that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to Cicero, the accused murdered. To the rescue comes Catfish Calloway, a veteran of the Civil War, ready to defend the son of his old war friend, Henry Sweet. Calloway is honest, upstanding, with a fierce respect for the law and the right of the accused to a sound defense. He is just a great character. The whole time I was reading I was trying to picture who should play the role in a movie! Aiding him, is his dutiful son and the intrepid Miss Peach. From the authentic sounding dialogue to the complex relationships, the characters felt well grounded in reality. 

The history: The story is set in Waco, Texas in 1894. Now I live in Texas so I don't know how much that played into my enjoyment of the story but I think this will appeal to most readers. The town comes alive in a mix of old and new. From horse and buggy to the new fangled telephone, from saloons to department stores it's an intriguing blend of Texas and American history as the country straddles a technological divide. The courtroom scenes were noteworthy and I enjoyed reading about the fledgling science behind fingerprinting. 

The Writing: The story is well paced, well written with great attention to detail. The mystery is unraveled in a satisfying, page-turning manner. I was kept guessing at the outcome until the bitter end which caught me by surprise. Some reviewers might want to quibble over a few misplaced commas but I'm not one of them. I think the author did a fantastic job. 

Overall: I really, really enjoyed this book. I read it fairly fast and was never bored. There is plenty of action, intrigue and history. I think this book would appeal to lovers of historical fiction, crime and courtroom dramas and folks who just love a good yarn. 

I rate this book 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ stars


Popular Posts