Author: Carol Hedges
Published: July 2021 by Little G Books
Category: Historical Crime Fiction, Victorian, Book Review
It is 1868, and the body of a young man has gone missing from the police mortuary at Scotland Yard, an event that has never happened before. Who was the mysterious corpse, and why was he spirited away in the night? These are the questions baffling Detective Inspector Stride and Detective Sergeant Cully as they set out to uncover the truth.
London during 1868 is experiencing the hottest summer on record, wilting under the relentless heat and resulting odours. Detective Inspector Leo Stride, feeling the lack of his daily caffeine from the usual coffee stalls holders who have forsaken London for the much cooler countryside, is summoned along with his colleague DS Jack Cully to the morgue. There was a problem. A body had gone missing.
“You are seriously telling us that someone stole a dead body?” Cully asks.
“Unlikely as it may appear, that would seem to be the case,” Robertson replies drily. “Nos non habemus corpus as it were. I am sure I do not need to provide a translation. And I would hardly tell you such information frivolously, detective sergeant.”
Try as they might, a lack of evidence and motive hampers and eventually stalls the investigation.
Elsewhere, two despicable brothers are intent on ingratiating themselves with their rich, elderly aunt who is dying, each trying to outdo the other to be the recipient of her fortune and jewellery collection.
Miss Lucy Landseer has set herself up as a Private Consulting Detective and it’s no time at all until she receives her first client. Then we have Micky Mokey and Little Azella, variety artists appearing nightly at the Varieties Music Hall for the summer season. But who is the real Micky behind his stage persona?
The Replacement, newly appointed private secretary to the Honourable Thomas Langland MP, a position previously occupied by his good friend who seems to have disappeared. The Replacement’s bland appearance and subservient attitude disguises his intelligence and the real reason he has secured this post.
The intricate plot threads are woven together cleverly and seamlessly with engaging, descriptive prose and several twists. Crimes and machinations are resolved convincingly and in a very satisfactory manner. The characters are well rounded, easy to picture. I loved young Harriet and her no holds barred parrot, as well as the regulars. London and it’s inhabitants are evocatively depicted as always. Another very enjoyable addition to The Victorian Detectives series.
I chose to read and review Desire & Deceit for Rosie Amber’s book review team, based on a digital copy kindly supplied by the author.
Carol Hedges is the successful UK writer of 18 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. Carol is also the writer of ‘The Victorian Detectives’ ~ a series of novels set in 1860s London and featuring Detective Inspector Leo Stride and his side-kick Detective Sergeant Jack Cully.
The six previous books in the series are:
Diamonds & Dust
Honour & Obey
Death & Dominion
Rack & Ruin
Wonders & Wickedness
Fear & Phantoms
Carol Hedges lives in Hertfordshire with a tortie-siamese cat and a lot of pond fish. When not writing/sleeping/trying to resist cake, she tutors A level and GCSE English Literature. She campaigns as chair of a local action group to save a community urban green space from possible development. She also minds her two grandchildren, one of whom is the 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