- Author: Carol Hedges
- ARC Review
- Category: Crime, Thriller, Historical Fiction
The city is in the grip of railway mania when the gruesome discovery of several infant corpses in an abandoned house forces Inspector Lachlan Greig of A Division, Bow Street Police Office and his men to enter the dark and horrific world of baby farming.
It’s the spring of 1863 in the city of London, and as Hind Street is being demolished to make way for the railway, something horrifying is uncovered by the construction workers. Inspector Lachlan Greig of the Metropolitan Police, based in Bow Street, is called to the scene, where the bodies of eleven dead babies have been discovered.
He writes down where the tiny bodies are lying, drawing sketches of their exact position and relation to each other. He makes notes on the old rags and newspapers covering them, and checks for any objects that may be in the vicinity that might have contributed to their deaths.
When the wonderfully named Edwin Persiflage and Danton Waxwing, who lodge in Hind Street, decide they have a grievance against the rich and privileged and declare themselves anarchists, they pose a threat to the public resulting in yet another problem for Inspector Greig.
They are both bank clerks in the same private bank. They are earnest young men with well oiled hair, cheap gaudy waistcoats and big ideas.
Miss Daisy Lawton is living in a different world altogether. Full of the joys of spring, she’s young, pretty, well to do and on her way to meet her best friend from school, Letitia Simpkins. The two girls have vastly different backgrounds – Daisy is secure in the love of her family and the knowledge life only promises good things, such as being in love, shopping and parties. Whereas Letitia has a tricky and strained family life, at the beck and call of her parents and only a step up from the servants. The only light at end of her very dark tunnel is a well-timed meeting with librarian, Sarah Lunt, who is of the opinion ladies should be able to study and train for a profession. Letitia herself loves learning and believes there should be more to life than waiting for a man to offer marriage.
As in her previous books, Carol Hedges’ vivid and engaging prose recreates the atmosphere and flavour of Victorian London and its inhabitants evocatively, so that I was transported back in time immediately. The story gives considerable realisation and understanding of life at that time, across the many societal levels of the population. The characters are portrayed extremely well, including the secondary ones, and whether they’re likeable or not they draw the attention.
Lachlan Greig is a wonderful addition to the stories, I like him a lot, and it was good to get reacquainted with Stride and Cully. The plight of, and non-existent civil rights for, women in Victorian times is highlighted, not only by the machinations of Daisy’s mother and Letitia’s horrible situation but also with those who are forced, for whatever reason, to seek the services of the so-called ‘baby minders’. People who are at best unscrupulous, and at worst guilty of mass infanticide. The obviously in depth research needed for this story must have been heartbreaking.
Reviewed for Rosie Amber’s book review team and based on an ARC from the author. This does not affect my opinion or the content of my review.
About Carol Hedges
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 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. The fourth book in the series, Murder & Mayhem, will be published in September 2016.
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 via Twitter: @carolJhedges