- Author: Carol Hedges
- Published: October 2015 by Crooked Cat Publishing
- Category: Historical Fiction
When Detectives Stride & Cully are called in to investigate a fatal case of arsenic poisoning, they quickly realise that there is a lot more to it than meets the eye. Despite their best efforts, secrets and lies will dog the investigation and frustrate their efforts. It will take all the skill and ingenuity of two of Scotland Yard’s finest to get to the truth of the matter.
Meanwhile London is playing host to two enigmatic strangers:
Darkly handsome Mark Hawksley has come to enrich himself at the expense of the gullible and greedy by selling fake shares in a bogus diamond mine company.
Beautiful Belinda Kite has come to find excitement and adventure, and maybe bag herself the prize of a rich husband in the process.
What will happen when their paths cross?
Murder, love, trickery and false identities abound in this third Victorian crime novel, set once again in the foggy gas-lit streets and twisting alleyways of 1860s London.
Tall and handsome, Mark Hawksley arrives in London and, with his partners in crime, intends to assemble as many rich business men as possible with the promise of more wealth if they will only consider investing in his diamond mine. Another newcomer to the city is Miss Belinda Kite, arriving as companion to Miss Grizelda Bulstrode, sister of Josiah Bulstrode, who are in London to escape an ‘Unfortunate Incident’ suffered by Grizelda.
Meanwhile Detective Inspector Stride and Detective Sergeant Cully are about to be fully occupied in trying to solve fatal cases of arsenic poisoning and acts of moralistic vandalism, while dogged by the gutter press. Mr Frederick Undershaft, lawyer and serial philanderer, receives a box of poisoned cakes. He isn’t the only recipient. And in a seedy and run down area of the city buildings defaced with red paint are brought to the attention of Sergeant Evans.
The crowd parts, giving Sergeant Evans his first view of a derelict brick banded building, one of the many common lodging houses that line the filthy street. Someone has painted, in large red letters, somewhat trickly in places, the stark words Den of Theeves on the front door.
As with the first two books in the series, Carol Hedges with a great eye for detail, paints a vivid and atmospheric picture of Victorian London, with the sights and smells, and its very different inhabitants, hardship and poverty for some, privilege and wealth for others. The squalid, filthy streets and alleyways compared to the much more high-class areas. Full of keenly researched period detail and the character descriptions give an immediate visual image. Josiah Bulstrode is ‘a well built man in his late thirties, with a high complexion and Macassar-oiled hair and moustaches.’ Mark Hawksley has ‘dark brown eyes, straight brows and chiselled saturnine features. He has black hair with just a tiny touch of grey at the temple. He sports side-whiskers, but his chin and upper lip are clean shaven.’
The two main elements of the story play out, and are woven together, perfectly, with lots of intrigue, wonderful characterisations and wry humour. Engaging and smoothly flowing writing explores the many levels of society, with unexpected twists and a very satisfying ending.
About the author
Carol Hedges is the successful UK writer of 14 books for Teenagers/Young Adults and Adults. Her writing has received much critical acclaim, and her novel Jigsaw was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal. Her four Spy Girl books, published by Usborne Books and featuring feisty sassy heroine Jazmin Dawson are available to buy on Amazon.
Her ebook Jigsaw Pieces is also available on Amazon. She is currently writing a series of adult Victorian Crime Fiction novels, set in 1860s London and featuring the two detectives Stride & Cully. The first, Diamonds & Dust, A Victorian Murder Mystery was published by Crooked Cat Books in 2013 and is available as both book and ebook. The second, Honour & Obey was published in November 2014 and is also available in both formats. The third novel, Death & Dominion has just been published, in both formats.
Carol Hedges lives in Hertfordshire. When not writing/sleeping/trying to resist cake, she tutors A level and GCSE English Literature. She also campaigns as chair of a local action group to save a community urban green space from possible development. She also minds her granddaughter, star of the award winning series of blogs: The Adventures of L-Plate Gran
Bits of her writing life can be viewed on her blog: http://carolhedges.blogspot.com
Connect with carol Hedges via Twitter: @carolJhedges