I received a copy of Murder and Mischief from the author as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team, in return for an honest review.
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.
Why has Barrowclough been targeted? What is inside the mysterious parcels that keep arriving at Hill House, and why won’t he cooperate with the police? The case will take the Scotland Yard detectives on a journey out of London and into the victim’s past, to uncover the secrets and lies that haunt his present.
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.
I’ve heard a lot about Carol Hedges’ Victorian Detectives series over the years, and been promising myself I will read one of her books. How I wish I hadn’t waited so long! Murder and Mischief is a brilliant read; I loved both the story and the author’s distinctive writing style. I actually resented having to put the kindle down when other things needed doing.
Murder and Mischief is number ten of this author’s series, but I read it as a standalone book, and that was no problem at all. I’ve since checked some of the others in the series, and even though some of the characters are in the other books, and most of the settings are similar, this is a complete story in itself. There are no loose ends. In fact I should imagine that, for those readers who have followed the series, familiar characters and backgrounds must add to their enjoyment of each story.
The first thing I have to say is how much I enjoyed the voice of the omniscient narrator. Told from the various points of view, in the present tense, and in the first person, I could actually hear him (yes I do think it’s a “him”) in my head. The conversational tone, the way the reader is directly addressed, gives instant imagery to this shared observation. We are encouraged to view the disparate and unfair class divide, and actions of all the characters in the same way as the narrator does.
The dialogue is skilfully written and adds another layer to each character, their standing in society, and their role in Murder and Mischief. And here the narrator comes into his own again, revealing often that the direct speech doesn’t reflect their internal dialogue.
The descriptions of the settings that the characters move around in are flawless – extremely atmospheric, and adding much to the story. In fact, the sense of place is so redolent that the streets, the houses, the workhouse, the public houses, the Chinese mission house, all almost become characters in their own right.
There are two main plots that intertwine and coalesce, threaded throughout with various themes of honesty and crime, indifference and cruelty, love and hatred. Sometimes the plot leaps from one thread to another in startling speed, and yet it works, reflecting the change of circumstance the characters find themselves in, and, for me, kept me enthralled.
As I always say, I try not to give spoilers in my reviews, the book descriptions reveal enough of the story. I can only give a subjective appraisal. But, for anyone who likes the crime genre, a book with an utterly compelling plot, and an insight to Victorian London, this is for you. Murder and Mischief is a novel I can thoroughly recommend.
Carol Hedges’ writing has received much critical acclaim. Her Victorian Detectives series is set in 1860s London and features Detective Inspector Leo Stride and his side-kick Detective Sergeant Jack Cully. The ten books in the series are: Diamonds & Dust, Honour & Obey. Death & Dominion,Rack & Ruin, Wonders & Wickedness, Fear & Phantoms, Intrigue & Infamy, Fame & Fortune, Desire & Deceit, Murder & Mischief.