Elsa Hart, Ghosts, and Cabinets of Curiosity

Elsa Hart’s Li Du trilogy took place in the early eighteenth century in China. Now, with The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne, she moves to London in the same period. In a fascinating conversation with author Douglas Preston and Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, she talks about ghosts left over from her previous books, and why she moved to London for the latest book. She and Preston talk about the history of cabinets of curiosity. The conversation even takes them into Patrick O’Brian’s series. You can find copies of Hart’s books, including signed copies of The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne, in the Web Store. https://bit.ly/31it9gG Douglas Preston talks about the book he wrote with Lincoln Child, The Cabinet of Curiosities, and the collections at the American Museum of Natural History. You can order a copy of that in the Web Store as well. https://bit.ly/34pdcHJ

Here’s the summary of The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne.

From the author of the acclaimed Li Du novels comes Elsa Hart’s new atmospheric mystery series.

London, 1703. In a time when the old approaches to science coexist with the new, one elite community attempts to understand the world by collecting its wonders. Sir Barnaby Mayne, the most formidable of these collectors, has devoted his life to filling his cabinets. While the curious-minded vie for invitations to study the rare stones, bones, books, and artifacts he has amassed, some visitors come with a darker purpose.

For Cecily Kay, it is a passion for plants that brings her to the Mayne house. The only puzzle she expects to encounter is how to locate the specimens she needs within Sir Barnaby’s crowded cabinets. But when her host is stabbed to death, Cecily finds the confession of the supposed killer unconvincing. She pays attention to details—years of practice have taught her that the smallest particulars can distinguish a harmless herb from a deadly one—and in the case of Sir Barnaby’s murder, there are too many inconsistencies for her to ignore.

To discover the truth, Cecily must enter the world of the collectors, a realm where intellect is distorted by obsession and greed. As her pursuit of answers brings her closer to a killer, she risks being given a final resting place amid the bones that wait, silent and still, in the cabinets of Barnaby Mayne.


If you’re interested in the history of these collections, a fan of Elsa Hart’s books or Preston/Child’s books, you’ll want to watch this fascinating conversation.