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Monday, December 12, 2016

Victorian Murder Mystery Gory, But Gripping

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

With the recent death of her father, March Middleton has been left a penniless 21-year-old orphan with few prospects.  Being "unsuited to trade and too proud to go into service," she's relieved when her godfather offers to take her in.  March has never met Sidney Grice, but she learns some startling facts about her mysterious guardian on the way to his home in London.  The man, apparently, has made quite a name for himself as a brilliant, brave personal detective.  Not exactly a people person, Grice is civil to his new charge but hardly enthusiastic.

Fascinated by Grice's daring occupation, March longs for a taste of the excitement.  When a case presents itself, she offers to pay the client's fee if Grice agrees to investigate.  Reluctantly, the detective accepts.  Together, the unlikely duo look into the situation—a young woman has been stabbed to death, apparently by her husband.  The victim's mother insists her son-in-law is innocent.  March believes her.  Grice is less convinced.  Still, as the two dig deeper, they discover inconsistencies and clues that cast a new light on the crime.  The closer they get to the truth, the more dangerous the streets of East End grow for the curious pair.  Will March and her godfather live long enough to solve the case?  Or will they become the newest corpses discovered on the mean Whitechapel streets?

I don't know about you, but I enjoy a good Victorian mystery tale.  The Mangle Street Murders, the first in a new detective series by M.R.C. Kasasian, isn't my genre favorite, but I still found the story enjoyable.  Gruesome, mind you, but entertaining nonetheless.  March Middleton is a likable narrator—she's smart, determined, and more than capable of matching wits with her guardian.  Sidney Grice is an intriguing character in his own right, although the brilliant but socially awkward P.I. is fast becoming a cliché in crime fiction.  Still, The Mangle Street Murders is a compelling, atmospheric mystery that manages to be both bleak and funny.  Its setting can't help but be depressing, its subject matter gory and yet, I liked this one overall.  True, I haven't found myself clamoring for a sequel; that, however, is probably only a matter of time.  

(Readalikes:  Reminded me of the Veronica Speedwell series by Deanna Raybourn [A Curious Beginning; and A Perilous Undertaking] and Scotland Yard's Murder Squad series  [The Yard; The Black Country; The Blue Girl (novella); The Devil's Workshop; The Harvest Man; Lost and Gone Forever; and Dark House] by Alex Grecian)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (no F-bombs), violence, blood/gore, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find
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