Author: Carol Hedges
Published: November 2022 by Little G Books
Category: Historical, Crime Fiction
It is January, a time of year when not much crime usually happens. But when Inspector Greig is unexpectedly summoned to the opulent Hampstead residence of Mr. James William Malin Barrowclough, a rich businessman, he embarks upon one of the strangest and most bizarre investigations that he has ever been involved in.
Murder & Mischief is the tenth novel in the series, and in the great tradition of Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, it entices the reader once again along the teeming streets and dimly gas~lit thoroughfares of Victorian London, where rich and poor, friend and foe alike mix and mingle.
January 1868 and London was covered in a thick blanket of snow. Mr. James William Malin Barrowclough’s two sons couldn’t wait to get outside. They discover a snowman in the grounds, and to their horror the snowman appears to be more man than snow. Is it a weird prank or something much more sinister?
Detective Inspector Lachlan Greig was on duty with a skeleton staff after Christmas, and just about to go home when he was summoned to Hill House to view the bizarre spectacle.
Greig walks up to the white shape. He observes that it is not so much a made snowman, as something covered by snow that has taken on the likeness of one. It has a strange, flat face, a penny for an eye. He leans forward, intrigued. Next minute, he starts back, uttering an exclamation of horror.
The ‘snow man’ is wearing an expensive looking top hat which is proved to have links to the unfortunate Barrowclough. When another death occurs, the up and coming newest member of the detective team, DC Tom Williams, is drawn into the investigation and more than proves his worth.
Meanwhile two young siblings, Liza and Flitch, escaped their desperate situation in a Cambridge workhouse and, with Flitch’s resourcefulness, managed to evade their pursuers and arrive safely in London where a host of adventures await them. But a reward has been offered for the two runaways which attracts the unscrupulous.
We also catch up with our intrepid private investigator, Lucy Landseer, when she finds a gentleman asleep in the doorway of the house from where she conducts her business. Sam Thomas recounts his story and asks for Lucy’s help, despite the fact he believes it’s too late, as his ship back to America sails on the evening tide. When all hope is gone his story takes a fortuitous turn.
As always, Carol Hedges brings Victorian London and its inhabitants to vibrant and atmospheric life with evocatavely distinctive and descriptive prose. The multilayered mystery is told from various perspectives in the present tense, which puts the reader right at the scene, and there’s a varied cast of characters, ranging from despicable to engaging. Cleverly written dialogue gives insights into characters’ personalities and motivations. And I just love the ending.
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. Her Ebook Jigsaw Pieces, which deals unflinchingly with many of the problems that beset today’s teens, is available on Amazon as is her Dystopic Fantasy The Last Virus. Carol is 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.