This book is so delightfully British.
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This week’s book is the fourth in a series. (I know, I know. I never read things in order.) It features an exquisitely researched setting and rounded characters with distinctive voices. And this particular book is set over 40 years before Sherlock Holmes would have been born (had he been a real person, of course). So which mystery book is this? I won’t keep it a mystery much longer. 😉
Plague Pits & River Bones, by Karen Charlton, is a wonderful murder mystery full of clues and thrilling adventure. The main character, Detective Lavender, is a relatable and slightly rebellious man with an excellent gut instinct. His wife, Lady Magdalena, is a spitfire and it’s obvious they’ve had a history of getting out of sticky situations together. In this book, work keeps Lavender away from home chasing down one criminal after the next, all while trying to solve a few side-project mysteries of his own. When he starts connecting the dots, he suddenly realizes that these crimes are more personal to him than he first believed. And he may be too late to save himself.
The narrative does a beautiful job of pacing, switching between Constable Ned Woods and his family, Magdalena and her life as a lady, and Lavender’s packed schedule. It also highlights many sociopolitical issues of the time like unlawful slavery, rape, domestic abuse, and prejudices against Catholics and Jewish people without rewarding or supporting these views. This, in my opinion, makes Lavender even more likable.
Though I wouldn’t describe most of the book as a pageturner, per se, this book was well-crafted and a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Rating: 4.7 out of 5
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P.S.: Be sure to check out this review of a more modern indie British crime novella.