This month’s Editor’s Pick is from Kate Lyall Grant, Publisher.
Set in 1882, during the turbulent weeks following the death of the great English naturalist Charles Darwin, and introducing idealistic young newspaper reporter Alec Lonsdale as an appealing new series sleuth, MIND OF A KILLER is the first in an intriguing new Victorian mystery series, and represents an exciting new departure for Simon Beaufort, author of the well-received Sir Geoffrey Mappestone medieval mystery series. I was thoroughly taken by this richly detailed, satisfyingly complex historical mystery, crammed full of period flavour and peopled by a cast of engagingly colourful characters, both real and imagined, and I hope Alec Lonsdale and his spirited female colleague and co-investigator Hulde Friederichs will appear in many more books to come.
The action kicks off when Alec, writing up the story of a fatal house fire for his crusading newspaper, the Pall Mall Gazette, discovers that the victim’s death was no accident but the result of cold-blooded, premeditated murder. But why would someone kill a humble shop assistant and steal part of his brain? Following the discovery of a second body, and then a third, Lonsdale and Friederichs team up to uncover evidence of a shocking conspiracy that reaches to the highest echelons of Victorian society.
The well-realized late 19th century London setting – from posh gentlemen’s clubs like the Garrick and the Oxford & Cambridge to the earthy camaraderie of more humble establishments such as the Dog & Bone public house, down to the grim routines and appalling depravities of the workhouse – effectively highlights the blatant hypocrisies of this class-bound society, hidebound as it is by rigid social conventions and in-built snobberies. Throughout the novel, real historical figures mingle seamlessly with fictitious – and, as it transpires, the death of Charles Darwin and some of the theories he espoused during his lifetime have a particularly relevant (and chilling) part to play in the central mystery.
I would highly recommend MIND OF A KILLER to anyone who enjoys the intelligent, atmospheric and fiendishly plotted historical mysteries of authors such as Antonia Hodgson or S. G. MacLean.
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