Top positive review
Entertaining Contribution to the Period-Piece British Mystery Genre
Reviewed in the United States on June 29, 2017
This is the first book of a relatively new series of period-piece British mystery novels. It is well written and entertaining. The book’s story is placed in the first decade of the 19th century in England. It is centered around the work of the somewhat enigmatic police detective Stephen Lavender and his jovial side-kick, Constable Ned Woods. They are based in London, but not infrequently they are sent into the English hinterlands to solve particularly difficult crime mysteries. In the example of this book, they are sent north into rural Northumberland. The author has done an excellent job of researching the time and place settings for her story, and she writes in a captivating style which is sprinkled with now archaic English words, which were in common usage 200 years ago. With more lucidity and realism than most, the author does not gloss over the unpleasantness and challenges of both urban and rural life in pre and nascent industrial societies of our forebearers. For example, she refers to the smells and health risks associated with large amounts of animal feces in urban streets and markets when most transport was horse drawn, and the pollution of the Thames River. The writing employs a pace and complexity which holds the reader’s attention, and for me at least it became a real page turner. A personal quibble with this book is that I thought that the tangential referral to Lavender’s love interest was an unnecessary diversion, which distracted from the quality of the central story. However, subsequently, I have been somewhat chastened, as it turns out the woman plays a central role in the next book in the Lavender mystery series. This book is a good contribution to the genre of period-piece British mysteries.