Tag Archives: Victorian Crime

The Treasure of the Poison King

30 Aug

“The Treasure of the Poison King” is written by Paul D. Gilbert and published by MX Publishing.

Mithradates VI, the King of Pontus, in the first century BCE is known to history as “The Poison King” due to his habit of dosing himself with poisons to prevent anyone killing him in that way. He was also fabulously wealthy. After his defeat by the Roman legions led by Lucullus, his treasure was taken back to Rome, but one of the ships sank, never to be seen again…until a small group of Greek sponge divers found a mysterious ship wreck. Now, rumour has it that the treasure is coming to London. But what is no rumour is the death that it leaves in its wake.

Sherlock Holmes is on the case, and he must find the treasure before someone close to him becomes a victim.

Paul D. Gilbert never fails to deliver exciting stories. “The Treasure of the Poison King” is fast paced and exciting. It balances action, both physical and cerebral, with a good dose of history. All of it woven together to create a story that is sure to delight any Sherlock Holmes fan.

Highly recommended.

You can purchased the book directly from MX Publishing

The Murder of Christina Collins

14 Aug

This little booklet (60 pages) tells the story of the murder of Christina Collins in 1839. The poor lady was murdered by boatmen on the Trent and Mersey Canal. Not an unusual story in and of itself, but this crime was the inspiration for Colin Dexter’s award winning Inspector Morse novel “The Wench is Dead”.

This edition of the booklet was published by The Irregular Special Press in 2011 and includes an introduction by Colin Dexter.

John Godwin writes about the crime in rich detail.

The booklet’s 60 pages are densely packed with information, much of it compiled by gazetteer Antony J. Richards.

An interesting little read, though I found the use of CAPITALS FOR EMPHASIS more than a tad annoying.

Worth a look.

Murder on the Brighton Express

8 Aug

“Murder on the Brighton Express” is a novel in the Railway Detective series by Edward Marston.

Detective Inspector Robert Colbert aka The Railway Detective investigates the derailment of the London to Brighton Express in October 1854. Is it simply driver error, or something more sinister?

The resulting story is a deliciously tangled web of death and destruction.

Edward Marston is a renowned author of historical mysteries, of which there are probably more of the Railway Detective than any other. Which is good, because this series has rapidly become one of my favourites.

The characters are well rounded and feel very real.

“Murder on the Brighton Express” is both well written and well researched. The result is a read that simply rockets along. much like the Brighton Express.

Highly recommended for fans of railway stories, Victorian stories, and detective stories.

London’s Underworld

9 Mar

This book was originally published in 1862 as the fourth volume of Henry Mayhew’s ground-breaking sociological work “London Labour and the London Poor”. The edition I read was edited by Peter Quennell and published in 1983 by Bracken Books.

Henry Mayhew was an interesting man. Genuinely interested in the lives of the people he was surveying and deeply compassionate, something that comes across, even through the somewhat turgid mid-Victorian prose.

For me, the major highlight of the book was the interviews with prostitutes, thieves and other outcasts of Victorian society. 160 years later their individual voices ring out clearly making the book an absolutely fascinating read.

This book, picked up at Syber’s of Malvern second hand book shop, is now part of my reference library.

Highly recommended.

The Casebook of Inspector Armstrong Volume One

26 Sep

“The Casebook of Inspector Armstrong Volume One” is written by Martin Daley and published by MX Publishing.

Inspector Cornelius Armstrong is a police inspector in the Northern English city of Carlisle in the Edwardian period.

The book contains two stories:
“The Italian Murder” in which Armstrong investigates the murder of a young Italian immigrant, and
“King Edward’s Ghost” in which ghost stories told at Christmas lead Armstrong into a case of deceit and betrayal going back to the reign of Kind Edward I.

Both stories are excellent reads. They are well-plotted and fast-paced, and salted with interesting historical details. “King Edward’s Ghost” had a slight supernatural frisson that just adds to the story’s depth and delight.

I am looking forward to reading Martin Daley’s other Inspector Armstrong stories.

Highly recommended.

“The Casebook of Inspector Armstrong Volume One” is available directly from MX Publishing

Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Beer Barons

29 Aug

“Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Beer Barons” is written by Christopher James and publishhed by MX Publishing.

The delivery of a beer barrel containing the body of a man to 221b Baker Street is the catalyst for a new adventure for Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson. This one takes them to the beer capital of Great Britain – Burton-on-Trent.

The story is fast paced and exciting with a fiendish plot that has more twists and turns than a corkscrew.

One thing I also look for in a Sherlock Holmes pastiche is the relationship between Holmes and Watson. In this book the friendship is rock solid.

There are many interestly and lively characters, including Miss Gertie Cresswell, private detective. Miss Cresswell is wonderfully well rounded and I would love to see her in a book of her own.

All in all an extremely fun read. Highly recommended.

My thanks to MX Publishing for the review copy.

You can get your own copy directly from MX Publishing: https://mxpublishing.com/products/sherlock-holmes-and-the-adventure-of-the-beer-barons?_pos=1&_sid=c4f7ba5e9&_ss=r

Sherlock Holmes and the London Particular

13 Aug

“Sherlock Holmes and the London Particular” is part of the American Literati’ series by Daviel D. Victor and published by MX Publishing. The books see Holmes and Watson work with noted American writers of the period. The writer in this book is Richard Harding Davis, whom I freely admit I had not heard of.

Be that as it may, it is still an excellent book with the plot involving a stolen diamond necklace, two corpses and a Russian connection. A plot which made for an intriguing case and a ripping read.

For those that don’t know the London Particular was a type of thick, almost poisonous, fog that frequently filled London. It creates an atmospheric start to the story.

The characters are interesting and the denouement of the case suitably exciting.

Well worth a read. THe book is available directly from MX Publishing: https://mxpublishing.com/products/sherlock-holmes-and-the-london-particular?_pos=1&_sid=28d8159f9&_ss=r

The Silver Locomotive Mystery

16 Jul

In “The Silver Locomotive Mystery” by Edward Marston, Inspector Robert Colbeck and Sgt Victor Leeming are called to Cardiff to investigate the murders of a young silversmith and the theft of a silver coffeepot in the shape of a locomotive that he was taking to hand over to a customer.

Edward Marston is a dab hand at historical crime fiction over a wide variety of eras. The Railway Detective series set in the mid 19th century is every bit as good as his other series. The research is impecable.

Marston evokes the time and place beautifully. His characters are well-rounded and interesting. Marston’s descriptions of people are both sharp and acidic at times. Of one character he says “He’s the kind of man who swallows nails and shits screws”.

The plot is exciting an gripping, with enough twists and turns to take your breath away.

Highly recommended.

The Detective Wore Silk Drawers

14 Jun

The discovery of a headless corpse washed up on the banks of the Thames near Blackfriars, drags Cribb from his pint at the pub and into a case involving the brutal and illegal world of bare-knuckle prize fighting, in this, the second of the Sergeant Cribb books by Peter Lovesey.

With his trusty assistant Thackeray and a well-bred young copper, Cribb dives into a case that, if he’s not careful will have them all knocked out for the count.

“The Detective Wore Silk Drawers” is fast paced and exciting. The characters are well-rounded and believable.

As well as a fine detective story, you get a gritty look at the less than glamorous world of boxing at a time when the hard and dirty fighting with bare fists was banned, and boxing with “mittens” and the Queensbury Rules had become the norm.

An interesting and absorbing read, as well as being a first-class crime thriller. Highly recommended.

The Instrument of Death

31 Mar

A priceless ruby is stolen, but just as Holmes reveals the truth, the thief, a wealthy titled woman, is found dead. Strangled by a mysterious intruder. A deadly game of cat and mouse begins.

“The Instrument of Death” is another great book from renowned Sherlockian, David Stuart Davies. The book is an enjoyable read. David Stuart Davies has an excellent touch with the characters of Holmes and Watson, and his Lestrade is a little stuffy, but quite acceptable.

The book utilizes the character of Dr. Caligari from the the 1920’s German horror movie “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”. We know from the beginning who the killer is, and how it’s done, so this is less a whodunnit and more a thriller. There are sections of the book that are a little graphic, so if you are at all squeamish this book may not be for you.

As always, David Stuart Davies has a light touch with description: “He wore a pair of heavy dark spectacles on a curved beak of a nose that gave him the appearance of a weary owl.”

“The Instrument of Death” is a fast paced and exciting blend of murder and mesmerism. Highly recommended.

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