Published: August 2020 by Little G Books
Category: Historical Fiction, Murder, Mystery, Book Review
London, 1867. When the body of a man is discovered hanging from a Thames bridge, Detectives Greig and Cully, two of Scotland Yard’s finest crime-solvers, are called in to investigate the mysterious circumstances of his death. Their inquiry will lead them into a world of extortion, robbery and human trafficking, and at its centre, the Black brothers, Munro and Herbert, London’s most evil and ruthless individuals, who will stop at nothing to keep their position at the top of London’s criminal underworld.
Fame & Fortune is the eighth outing for DS Jack Cully, DI Lachlan Greig and DI Leo Stride, otherwise known as the Victorian Detectives. Carol Hedges immerses us once again in a London peopled with the sad and the bad, the rich and the poor, and the evocatively described back alleys, slums and more fashionable thoroughfares they inhabit.
When a body is found hanging from the scaffolding on a bridge, Detective Inspector Greig doesn’t agree with the presumption of suicide by the attending constable. It didn’t add up in Greig’s eyes but the ineptitude of the constable regarding the scene of the crime, as Greig believed that’s what it was, didn’t help.
He studies the ground. It is a blur of muddy footprints. Unfortunately, the constable, in making a decision way above his pay grade or intellectual ability, has now effectively eliminated any prints that might have provided a clue as to how the man really met his end.
Then we have Gerald Daubney, a collector of antiquities who has been robbed of his priceless netsuke collection and, it seems, his manservant has also disappeared.
In a shabby, cobbled passageway in Bloomsbury we find ten year old Izzy Harding, scraping a living of sorts and existing off very little, painting furniture for dolls’ houses, one of the many children working at the long tables. Her second job washing dishes in a diner at least comes with food, such as it is.
The indomitable Miss Lucy Landseer makes another appearance when she comes to the aid, not only of novelist, Mrs Riva Hemmyng-Stratton, but also a lady in an intolerable position, in a situation that would perhaps make a good plot for one of her books.
The writer is engaged in a tricky segment of her current manuscript, which features gallant Edgar Blakelock (fine black moustache and glittering eyes) and her heroine, Clarissa Ferrers (golden curls, retroussé nose, and slender rose-tipped fingers)