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REVIEW: Keepers of the Past – Jackson Marsh

Keepers of the Past - Jackson Marsh - The Larkspur Mysteries

Genre: Historical, Mystery, Suspense

LGBTQ+ Category: Gay

Reviewer: Maryann

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About The Book

“Forgive when there is nothing to forgive, and forget when there is.”
Barbary Fleet, September 1890

Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, September 1890

Deaf since birth, Joe Tanner was destined for a life of misery in the workhouse until Lord Clearwater offered him a place at the curious Larkspur Academy in Cornwall. There, while adjusting to his new life, His Lordship challenges Joe to unlock the mystery of the Colvannick stone row.

As Joe sets about his task, he suspects a connection between the standing stones and a series of unsolved murders. The problem is convincing others, and his obsession soon threatens his relationship with his lover, Dalston Blaze. Joe’s determination to unearth the truth also jeopardises his place at the academy, but a man’s life is at stake, and the only one who believes in the mysteries of the past is Joe.

And the killer who prepares to murder his victim and anyone who interferes.

The second of The Larkspur Mysteries continues from book one, ‘The Guardians of the Poor.’ The Larkspur Mysteries are inspired by existing locations and newspaper reports from the time, and combines fact, fiction, adventure and bromance.

The Review

Keepers of the Past is the second book in “The Larkspur Mysteries,” and it has a touch of eerie-ness! This is Joe Tanner’s story, and how his deafness led to him being abandoned and abused within his own family.

Joe Tanner and Dalston Blaze are finally together. Dalston and Joe have known each other for quite some time from their horrible experience at the Hackney workhouse. Their means of communicating had gotten them into trouble, but with the help of Lord Archer Clearwater, James Wright and Silas Hawkins, they were saved and got to start a better life at Larkspur Academy.

Joe is settling in at Larkspur, and everyone has really made an effort to learn signing, so the lines of communication are progressing. But Joe’s deafness at times makes him feel incompetent. Joe starts to struggle with his place at the academy. He sees the worth of everyone else, but not himself. Dalston, Frank and Clem all have responsibilities of their own that seem so much more important than Joe’s.

The mystery of the stones has become a great concern to Archer, and he’s left it to Joe to find the secrets of the stones’ strange symbols. Dalston has agreed to help, but he at times neglects the importance of what Joe is trying to accomplish with the symbols. Joe starts to feel like he’s being made fun of, and his confidence slips. He also has to deal with feelings of hurt and jealousy, and needs to find a way to brush them aside to totally concentrate on the symbols. He puts all his effort, along with a new-found friend in David, to finding about the mysterious stones, symbols and their relationship to the number nine. 

As Joe starts to make connections between reports of missing men, the symbols, the number nine, and the feelings he gets from the stones, he starts to believe that something dark and dangerous is going to lead to death. Time is running out – what can he do?

Keepers of the Past delves into a fascinating mythology, lore, and religion, as well as the tragedies related to the stones and symbols. Marsh has done his research, as the story explodes with an intense investigation into various past histories of different beliefs.  

I’ve read the complete “Clearwater Mystery” series and liked all the characters, but I think Marsh outdid himself with Joe, who has now become one of my favorite characters. He tugged at my heart strings. He’s so sweet, always apologetic, and stubborn. As a deaf man in a hearing world, he is determined to prove himself.  Even so, he doesn’t realize how valuable he is, and the doors that will eventually open to him. 

Fleet is another fascinating but difficult character. He goes off on tangents just to explain the simplest things and still gets his point across.  I love Fleet, with all his quirkiness, banter and his vast knowledge. He’s the best character to educate and mentor the boys of Larkspur Academy, and is unforgettable.

Of course, some of our favorite Clearwater men make an appearance too, including Archer, Thomas, James and Andrej. I would love to see Andrej and Fleet in a deep conversation!  

Once again, the cover art by Andjela K is amazing. Once I read the book, the cover art totally fit the story. I now know who’s riding the horse! And the sketches of the stones and symbols inserted in the book all set the tone for this outstanding novel.

As Marsh always does, he shares with the readers, “Author Notes” and how he melds fact and fiction to create another entertaining tale. Book three is already in progress, and I am so looking forward to it!

The Reviewer

Hi, I’m Maryann, I started life in New York, moved to New Hampshire and in 1965 uprooted again to Sacramento, California.  Once I retired I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida in 2011 and just moved back to Sacramento in March of 2018.  My son, his wife and step-daughter flew out to Florida and we road tripped back so they got to see sights they have never seen.  New Orleans and the Grand Canyon were the highlights. Now I am back on the west coast again to stay! From a young age Ialways liked to read.

I remember going to the library and reading the “Doctor Dolittle” books by Hugh Lofting. Much later on became a big fan of the classics, Edgar Alan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and as time went by Agatha Christie, Ray Bradbury and Stephen Kingand many other authors.

My first M/M shifter book I read was written by Jan Irving the “Uncommon Cowboys” series from 2012.  She was the first author I ever contacted and sent an email to letting her know how much I liked this series.  Sometime along the way I read “Zero to the Bone”by Jane Seville, I think just about everyone has read this book! 

As it stands right now I’m really into mysteries, grit, gore and “triggers” don’t bother me. But if a blurb piques my interest I will read the book.

My kindle collection eclectic and over three thousand books and my Audible collection is slowly growing.  I have both the kindle and audible apps on my ipod, ipads, and MAC. So there is never an excuse not to be listening or reading.

I joined Goodreads around 2012 and started posting reviews.  One day a wonderful lady, Lisa Horan of The Novel Approach, sent me an email to see if I wanted to join her review group.  Joining her site was such an eye opener.  I got introduce to so many new authors that write for the LGBTQ genre. Needless to say, it was heart breaking when it ended.

But I found a really great site, QRI and it’s right here in Sacramento. Last year at QSAC I actually got to meet Scott Coatsworth, Amy Lane and Jeff Adams. 


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