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REVIEW: A Dead Bore by Sheri Cobb South

Dear Mrs. Cobb South,

a-dead-boreI love that you’re working to get your books released in ebook format and hope that this series will eventually be available electronically. It deserves a wider audience than I’m afraid it’s going to get as hardcover releases from a small press.

“A Dead Bore” refers to the first victim in this second book in the John Pickett mystery series. Julia Bertram, Lady Fieldhurst, desperately wants to escape the boredom of London. As a recent widow, she’s unable to take part in most society events. Yet the thought of either staying with her mother-in-law in the dower house or visiting Brighton with her BFF, and running the risk of encountering the man who had hoped to become her lover, is not to be born.

It is with relief that she receives an invitation to the Yorkshire countryside. She’s not quite sure why Lady Anne Hollingshead did so but, no matter, it will get her out of London. With warnings from her friend of the dire boredom sure to await her ringing in her ears, she sets off. And suffers through her first dinner seated beside the local vicar as she begins to pick up on all the underlying currents seething through the room.

When the dinner party breaks up, no one realizes that before the night is over, one of them will be dead. Julia knows she heard a gunshot during the night and fearing that murder has been done, she sends to London for John Pickett, the Bow Street law officer who cleared her in the murder of her husband two months ago. Can he catch a killer in the wilds of the countryside while posing as Julia’s footman?

The humor, attention to historical detail, and deft characterization present in your other novels is delightfully in evidence in “A Dead Bore.” Once the murderer is revealed, the person’s identity and actions matched a few things I knew had to have taken place. The motive behind the deed again fits what police still look for today when lining up their suspects.

As votermom mentioned in a comment on “In Milady’s Chamber,” I loved so many of the characters in this book. And as much as it’s possible to feel sympathy for a murderer, I did. John rediscovers that bringing the guilty to justice often can and will affect those around them. Julia sensibly limits her involvement in the investigation to what she can handle – noticeably not being keen on helping John examine the body – yet proves her value with several key bits of information which John would have been unable to easily learn. While we see John growing in confidence as his experience increases.

As you promised, the fledgling feelings between Julia and John Pickett are beginning to show. John has been hopelessly in love with Julia for months but now Julia is just beginning to see him as more than the man who saved her life and with whom she helped to solve her husband’s murder. The social gulf is still there yet you show that a relationship between members of differing social classes is not unknown, albeit rare and usually clandestine.

I wonder if the fact that Julia called on a Bow Street Runner and secretly introduced him into the household with whom she was staying will affect her socially? The information is sure to get out and I would think social hostesses might think twice before inviting her to their homes in case she thinks a secret needs to be solved.

I hope there will be further adventures for John and Julia. They are wonderful creations who take part in well plotted stories that are sure to please both Regency and historical mystery fans. B


Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. DS
    May 18, 2009 @ 20:40:14

    Jayne, can you tell me what the book cover is supposed to show? It’s making my eyes cross.

  2. vanessa jaye
    May 18, 2009 @ 21:30:22

    It looks like a footman holding a covered silver platter/tray, and the cover is reflecting a cross and a yellow flower/rose. It would be interesting to know exactly what is causing the reflection. This book sounds delightful! Who’s the publisher?

  3. (Jān)
    May 19, 2009 @ 04:28:00

    I just finished a re-read of my only five Sheri Cobb South’s books and was wondering what she was up to.

    Jayne, does she have a web page because I can’t find one?

    I looked at Amazon and it seems like she’s been writing everything from teen romance to Christian romance to mysteries to contemporaries? I’d like to be able to find a run-down on what’s what.

    The thing I like best about her writing, aside from the subtle characterization, is the understated humor that flows naturally from her characters and situations. I re-read Miss Darby’s Duenna, which contains a plot so prone to cliche that I’d normally run screaming from it, but which in her hands felt fresh and hysterically funny.

    So while I don’t read many mysteries anymore, I have the feeling I’d enjoy one that she wrote. I’ll have to see if I can get the library to order it.

    PS – Did you ever read that Egyptian Inspirational of hers? Sounds interesting, possibly.

  4. vanessa jaye
    May 19, 2009 @ 05:07:43

    Eeeep! In Milady’s Chamber is $40 hardcover at Chapters-Indigo. I think I’ll check out the library.

  5. Jayne
    May 19, 2009 @ 05:57:00

    The publisher is Five Star (www. gale/ fivestar) or ( www.

    I would guess that the cover is supposed to be John Pickett in his role of footman carrying what you described.

    I can only hope that these books will eventually see the light of day as ebooks cause they sure ain’t cheap now.

  6. Jayne
    May 19, 2009 @ 06:00:53

    Jan, she used to have a website but I think it’s down now. And Miss Darby’s Duenna is the only one of her regencies that I haven’t read, though I do have a copy. And no, I’ve never read, nor do I have, the Egyptian inspirational.

  7. DS
    May 19, 2009 @ 07:28:01

    Thought I responded but I guess not. I must have been looking at the cover too late. I had convinced my self it some sort of surreal picture of a serving dish replacing a head. The bottom of the waistcoat looked like a collar to me.

    But when I realized it was Five Star All Was Explained. They occasionally get the rights to good books– I think Five Star first published Laura Resnick’s Fall From Grace and that was a truly fail cover. They also published the latest Roberta Gellis medieval mystery and I saw her post that the first proposed cover was so ugly she couldn’t stand it. She also didn’t like the second one that actually appeared, but sje saod it was better than the first.

    Wasn’t Cobb’s regencies previously published by Pemberley? I just googled their web site and it looks like they are also concentrating on mysteries.

  8. Jayne
    May 19, 2009 @ 07:43:39

    They were published by Prinny World Press. But I think many of them are available from Regencyreads (Belgrave House) now.

  9. votermom
    May 19, 2009 @ 08:38:49

    I’ve been mentioned in a review! *blush*

    I loved this book! I hope we get more of John & Julia, and Susannah!
    The Weaver takes a Wife & Brighton Honeymoon were great — loads of fun.

  10. Jayne
    May 19, 2009 @ 08:53:39

    I wanted to wait to answer your question from “In Milady’s Chamber.”









    The children of the current Lord Hollingshead weren’t bastards since he was married to Lady Hollingshead. It was his (I think) father who was the bastard. And I’d love to see Susannah in a future book too.

  11. Sheri Cobb South
    May 19, 2009 @ 09:34:28

    Thank you, Jayne, for your lovely review of A DEAD BORE! Except for my five YA books with Bantam, all my books have been published by small presses, and without the positive exposure from sites like this, my books would be even more obsure than they already are! ;-)

    I’ll try to answer a few of the posters’ questions:

    The cover. Ah, yes, the cover. As vanessa jaye said, it’s a footman holding a tray. So far, so good. But on the tray is a burning cross, which doesn’t make a lot of sense, since no crosses were burned in the telling of this tale. (It’s the vicarage that burns, which I guess Five Star figured was close enough.) What’s disheartening is that an early mock-up of the cover had this gorgeous period-looking drawing of a young 18th-century man in a powdered wig. I don’t know why they decided to scrap that one.

    Jan, I have written in all the genres you mention. A complete rundown follows: (And vanessa jaye, DON’T pay $40 for one! Anyone interested in my out-of-print books can contact me; I’ve got remaindered copies of most that I’ll sell on the cheap.) Here they are:

    Wrong-Way Romance
    That Certain Feeling
    The Cinderella Game
    Don’t Bet on Love
    Blame It on Love

    The Cobra and the Lily (Egyptian historical; my mom’s favorite of all my books!)
    The Chance of a Lifetime (contemporary inspirational; originally–and disappointingly–pubished as Restless Hearts)

    The Weaver Takes a Wife
    Brighton Honeymoon (2nd in Weaver trilogy)
    French Leave (3rd in Weaver trilogy)
    Miss Darby’s Duenna
    Of Paupers and Peers

    Regency-Set Mystery:
    In Milady’s Chamber
    A Dead Bore

    About the bastard question: I think the original question was a reference to Lord Fieldhurst’s heir in In Milady’s Chamber. Children from a bigamous marriage would be illegitimate, which may (I haven’t yet decided) come up in the next book.

    Sheri Cobb South

  12. votermom
    May 21, 2009 @ 08:08:53

    Thanks for answering my question!

    I was wondering about the new Lord Fieldhurst. If there was no son from the 1st marriage (?), who then will be next in line for the title? I hope we find out later on.

    Btw, as a garden enthusiast I was very relieved that no roses were harmed at the end of In Milady’s Chamber! :)

    I thought that was a yellow rose with a cross on the cover of A Dead Bore. And a yellow rose in the language of flowers would mean Jealousy or Infidelity. But wrong period (Victorian), and not quite the motive (though close).

  13. Sheri Cobb South
    May 21, 2009 @ 09:02:37

    Okay, votermom, I confess this question sent me back to the book! ;-)

    I thought I remembered covering this issue while writing the book, and I found it there on page 214. The new Lord Fieldhurst and his first wife had two sons (neither of whom appear “onstage,” as they are off as school), so there is a legitimate heir in place. And they will no doubt be pleased and gratified by their sudden rise in the eyes of the world. :-)

  14. votermom
    May 21, 2009 @ 10:25:51

    Oh, I missed that! The new Lady Fieldhurst seems nice in a very solid down to earth way; I bet she raised her sons well.

    Are you working on a third John Picket mystery now?

  15. Sheri Cobb South
    May 21, 2009 @ 11:05:05

    Right now I’m working on a historical mystery set in another time period (“Golden Age” Hollywood, 1936), but when I finish it, I’ll start on a 3rd John Pickett mystery. It’s already calling to me, but I don’t have more than a general idea about it right now.

  16. Jayne
    May 21, 2009 @ 13:32:25

    Fantastic news, Sheri. Both of these, the Hollywood one and a new John Pickett mystery, will be on my list to read.

  17. votermom
    May 21, 2009 @ 14:18:01

    Ooh, Hollywood in the 30s! Sounds Glam!

  18. Sheri Cobb South
    May 22, 2009 @ 10:06:45

    I’m having great fun “name-dropping”–people, songs, etc. But it requires a very different “voice” than my regencies, and of course lots of research into a period I haven’t written about before–along with the knowledge that there are people alive today who will know if I get it wrong!

  19. Sheri Cobb South
    Mar 19, 2013 @ 10:58:13

    This seems as good a time as any to let my friends at Dear Author know that the third John Pickett mystery is now finished, and in the hands of a proofreader before being sent to the publisher! One of the comments here raised a question about the fate of George Bertram’s (the new Lord Fieldhurst’s) sons; that reader comment became a subplot in the new book, and I had a lot of fun in getting to know these previously offstage characters. The romance quotient is stepped up a bit, too, which is always fun!

    For those who prefer print books (but NOT hardcover prices!) I am releasing trade paperback editions of both IN MILADY’S CHAMBER and A DEAD BORE. I hope to have them “live” by mid-April.

  20. Jayne
    Mar 19, 2013 @ 14:21:38

    @Sheri Cobb South: Yes, yes! I’m so glad to hear that John and Julia are back for book 3. Will it be released/published by Regency Reads as are the first two?

  21. Sheri Cobb South
    Mar 19, 2013 @ 14:41:52

    Jayne, I really don’t know at this point. I hear that Five Star (like most of the other publishers, apparently) has changed their contract to retain electronic rights. As to what they plan to do with those rights, I don’t know. Since they publish primarily for the library market, I’m guessing they would probably hold off on releasing an electronic version until after libraries have had plenty of time to order the expensive hardcover. I would love to be wrong on this, though!

  22. Janine
    Mar 19, 2013 @ 14:44:29

    @(Jān): Great to see you here!

  23. Sheri Cobb South
    May 09, 2013 @ 16:41:29

    I just heard from Five Star today that the 3rd John Pickett mystery (tentatively titled FAMILY PLOT) has been pencilled in for the 2014 schedule, pending “official” approval. Yippee!

  24. Eva
    May 16, 2014 @ 00:18:34

    @Sheri Cobb South do you really still have copies of Wrong-Way Romance? Because I have been looking for a used copy of that book for a long time now…I used to own it, I read it dozen of times, and the only reason I don’t still own it is because we were living in Buenos Aires at the time and we’re moving back to the States so my parents limited what we could bring back with us. I still regret not bringing the book with me. Anyway, you still had copies in 2009, and that might not be the case now, but I have to ask…

  25. Sheri Cobb South
    May 23, 2014 @ 16:27:37

    Eva, I’m sorry, but I don’t. That book was apparently VERY popular, and although I keep an eye out for copies at used book stores, I don’t have any at present. Last time I checked online, there wasn’t a copy available for less than $270, which is absolutely insane! I wouldn’t pay that for it myself, and I wrote the thing! One suggestion: sometimes people list Sweet Dreams books in bulk on Ebay; you might want to check the “search description” box under advanced search options, and it might turn up a copy that way.

    While I’m here, I might as well mention that the third John Pickett book, FAMILY PLOT, is coming out in November, and the fourth sometime in 2015! Check my website at to see the dustjacket cover art and inner flap copy. You can even read the prologue! Chapter 1 will be available later this summer, as well.

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