Tag Archives: Victorian Crime

Victorian Murders

17 Nov

“Victorian Murders” by Roy Harley Lewis is a book I outright did not like.

What should have been an interesting read on murders during the Victorian period was marred by the author’s judgemental attitude.

I began to have qualms when I came across the following in the preface: “Without minimising the effects of the wide spread terror created by the Whitechapel murders, at least the victims belonged to the very cesspit of society, ie they were pitiful creatures for whom death was a merciful release from a nightmare on earth.”

No, just no! That is not on. The book was written in the 1980s and such an attitude wasn’t acceptable even then.

By the time the author began banging on about people he considered guilty of murder, regardless of the fact that they had been found not guilty by the courts, I had had enough.

This is one book that I did not finish, and I cannot in all good conscience recommend.

Invitation to a Dynamite Party

15 Oct

I first came across Sergeant Cribb of Scotland Yard via the Granada television series in 1980-1981. I was delighted to discover the series was based on books by Peter Lovesey, and lost no time in hunting down copies. Fast forward 40 years and imagine my delight when I came across several of the books at a second hand shop.

I am delighted to report that the books have stood the test of time.

In “Invitation to a Dynmite Party” London in 1884 is being plagued by a series of bomb blasts. A reluctant Sgt Cribb is sent on an explosives course, and when his offsider, Constable Thackery appears to be one of the terrorists, Cribb finds himself on a whirling ride fraught with danger, including being abducted at gunpoint to be the terror group’s new bombmaker.

The story is fast paced and well written. A fascinating take on a perilous time.

Peter Lovesey also has a fine line in sarcasm:

“‘Fancy that!’ said Inspector Jowett, so dedicated to the cause of personal advancement that he was ready to fancy anything a senior officer showed him.”

If you love Victorian era detective fiction, it will be worth your while getting hold of a copy (maybe try ABE Books).

Highly recommended.

The Alienist

3 Oct

My latest book to read and review is “The Alienist” by Caleb Carr.

The scene is New York City in 1896. Young male prostitutes are being brutally murdered. Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt turns to prominent alienist, Dr Laszlo Kreizler, for assistance.

Kreizler, along with a journalist named Moore, who is the narrator of the story, two police detectives, and police department secretary Sara Howard, join forces to track down the killer.

The book is a tense psychological thriller, though I did find I got bogged down a little with the actual psychology part of it. Carr gave his main character, Kreizler, a tendancy to lecture and I found that my attention wandered away at times.

The digressions into New York CIty’s past, both criminal and otherwise, were interesting. As were the vibrant descriptions of 19th century New York’s underworld and its inhabitants.

On the whole, I found “The Alienist” to be an enjoyable read.

A Mortal Curiosity

27 Sep

“A Mortal Curiosity” is the second Lizzie Martin/Inspector Ben Ross book written by Ann Granger. The book is set in 1864 when Lizzie, adrift from her role of companion to her ‘Aunt Parry’, goes to Hampshire to act as a companiom to a young woman recovering from the loss of her child.

Ben is uneasy about Lizzie going, and his fears are realized when the young woman is found covered in blood and hysterical beside the body of a ratcatcher.

Ben is sent from Scotland Yard to investigate and the stage is set for a fabulous story.

“A Mortal Curiosity” is an absorbing read. The characters spring from the page full of vivacity and idiosyncrasies which make them curiously addictive. I was drawn deeply into the plot and I only put the book down with reluctance.

All of the Lizzie Martin/Ben Ross books can be read out of sequence, because Ms. Granger has the balance of backstory just right. Enough so someone new to the books can work out what is going on, and not so much as to annoy a regular reader of the series.

One of the best books I have read this year. Highly recommended.

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Perplexed Politician

16 Apr

My second book, “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Perplexed Politician” is released today.

It is available directly from the publisher, MX Publishing: https://mxpublishing.com/products/sherlock-holmes-the-case-of-the-perplexed-politician?fbclid=IwAR0Xy74SeUc3o4maqWBV0Jhm51xo2M9Rq3E1uGXndTMFRRrLyYBD3GpmJgw

But also from Book Depository, Barnes and Noble, and the various Amazon sites worldwide.

“When the fiancé of the sister of a Member of Parliament is found dead in mysterious circumstances, the man turns to Sherlock Holmes and John Watson to get an answer to the puzzle. Journeying to the small Wiltshire village of Barrow-upon-Kennet, Holmes and Watson are soon deep into a murder investigation. With few clues and a mounting death toll, Holmes and Watson realize that they are facing something much more sinister than a perplexed politician.”

A New Sherlock Holmes Adventure.

29 Jan

I thought 2019 was a good year, with my first novel, “Sherlock Holmes and the Molly-Boy Murders” released by MX Publishing.  2020 looks to be even better.

I am delighted to announce that on 16th April 2020 my second Sherlock Holmes novel, “Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Perplexed Politician” will be released by MX Publishing.

“When the fiancé of the sister of a Member of Parliament is found dead in mysterious circumstances, the man turns to Sherlock Holmes and John Watson to get an answer to the puzzle.  Journeying to the small Wiltshire village of Barrow-upon-Kennet, Holmes and Watson are soon deep into a murder investigation.  With few clues and a mounting death toll, Holmes and Watson realize that they are facing something much more sinister than a perplexed politician.”

Has the blurb whetted your appetite?  I hope so.  As soon as I have pre-order details I will share them with you.

 

Sherlock Holmes: Legacy of Deeds

30 Aug

London 1894: People have been mysteriously poisoned at a Covent Garden art gallery; and a Russian Grand Duke is asking for Holmes to find the murderer of his manservant.

Are these two cases for Holmes… or only one? Add in an apparent suicide at a girl’s school and you have the recipe for an exciting and absorbing Sherlock Holmes mystery.

“Sherlock Holmes: Legacy of Deeds” by Nick Kyme is well plotted and well written, as well as relatively well researched.

Sherlock Holmes is nicely ascerbic, without being too ill-mannered. John Watson has a nice balance of outrage and sass, as well as being a valuable partner to Holmes, not a patsy. A well balanced Holmes/Watson team.

The Scotland Yard inspector involved in this case is Tobias Gregson. Nick Kyme pads Gregson out nicely. He managed to make my least favourite yarder quite likeable. I am hoping he writes more Holmes/Watson/Gregson offerings in the future.

Highly recommended.

The House At Baker Street

11 Apr

“The House at Baker Street” is the first novel for author Michelle Birkby.

When Sherlock Holmes turns away a potential client, Martha Hudson and Mary Watson step into the breech.

A marvellous story with action, adventure, much warmth between the characters, and real character depth.

Martha Hudson and Mary Watson miostly flit around the edges of the canon stories, the exception being Mary’s leading role in “The Sign of the Four”. This book fleshes out both women, making it obvious why Holmes remains at Baker Street, and just what Watson sees in Mary.

I do not have the room to keep all but the very best (in my opinion) books in my small Sherlock Holmes library. “The House at Baker Street” is the latest addition to that library and will be read many, many times in the future.

I cannot recommend this book too highly.

Jack the Ripper: Case Closed

31 Aug

In ‘Jack the Ripper: Case Closed’ by Gyles Brandreth, Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle set out to examine the suspects in the Ripper case and solve the crimes once and for all.

The book is narrated in the first person by Arthur Conan Doyle. This was a weird experience for me reading a book where one of my favourite authors is actually a character.

Gyles Brandreth gets right inside the skin of Oscar Wilde. His Wilde is thoroughly believable and syncs well with what we know of Wilde’s actual character.

The ending, not to give away any spoilers, is both satisfying and unsatisfying on a number of levels. I could get behind the idea of the killer, but not the motive. The politics of the situation I could accept quite easily.

A delicious Victorian romp.

I, Ripper

29 Aug

“I, Ripper” by Stephen Hunter was recommended to me by one of my GoodReads friends, Hannah.  Hannah has excellent taste.

This is probably not a book I would have picked up if left to my own devices, but on her recommendation I got a copy from the library and I’m glad I did.

“I, Ripper” is told from both the point of view of Jack the Ripper from his personal diaries, and from the notes of a reporter from the Star newspaper, Jeb, interspersed with letters written by one of the Whitechapel unfortunates.

Even though everyone knows about the killings, if not the details, I would still call this book a thriller.  Because, believe me, even though you know the crimes, you will get caught in the twists and turns as Jeb tries to identify the man killing the whores of Whitechapel.

The last few chapters are startling, amazing, shocking, and horrifying by turns.  I worked out who the Ripper was, but the real identity of Jeb, left me stunned.

Brilliant book.  A must for all ripperologists, and all fans of Victorian crime fiction.

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