Mystery Mondays is a sometimes weekly, sometimes biweekly and sometimes monthly review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (and on occasion thriller) genre that we are currently reading and our thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what we should read and review next.
The Gower Street Detectives #1
Advance Reader Copy, 329 pages
February 6th 2014
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.
After her father dies, March Middleton has to move to London to live with her guardian, Sidney Grice, the country’s most famous private detective.
It is 1882 and London is at its murkiest yet most vibrant, wealthiest yet most poverty-stricken. No sooner does March arrive than a case presents itself: a young woman has been brutally murdered, and her husband is the only suspect. The victim’s mother is convinced of her son-in-law’s innocence, and March is so touched by her pleas she offers to cover Sidney’s fee herself.
The investigations lead the pair to the darkest alleys of the East End: every twist leads Sidney Grice to think his client is guilty; but March is convinced that he is innocent. Around them London reeks with the stench of poverty and gossip, the case threatens to boil over into civil unrest and Sidney Grice finds his reputation is not the only thing in mortal danger.
Generally speaking, I’m a huge fan of murder mysteries that aren’t too creepy, scary or bloody and this one fit the bill. While the story being told in The Mangle Street Murders by M.R.C. Kasasian takes place during the Victorian era, it is actually a recollection by one of the main characters who is recalling the events of this book sixty years later. In this manner the writing style reminds me a lot like the stories of Sherlock Holmes which were usually narrated by Watson. In this case the detective is a man named Sidney Grice and the book is narrated by his ward, March Middleton many years later.
I love it when history and mystery are combined in a book, and with this book you can get a good sense of what the zeitgeist was during the 1880s. Additionally because the narrator is a young woman, you also get to see firsthand the prejudice and discrimination against women during this time. Most obvious is how easily March’s ideas and suggestions are dismissed and how she is treated like a second class citizen by pretty much every male character including her guardian even though she is quite the capable and independent woman. I really liked March as a character because while she was tough, and could hold her own against any man while at the same time she had a lot of heart. Unfortunately I can’t say the same about her guardian, Sidney Grice. Sidney is a very disagreeable man, with pretty much no redeeming characteristics. He is however very efficient at his job though his pride and arrogance which is unwarranted does often get in the way. In spite of that I did appreciate the fact that Sidney was not made to be invincible and all-powerful/all-knowing. Sidney does make mistakes and he is definitely not perfect as he cares equally about getting the truth and not looking like a fool, something that often can come in conflict with one another. The murder in this book was pretty interesting with a few twists before being resolved, though I kind of figured who the killer was even if I was wrong about how they went about it.
As this is the first book in the series, I look forward to reading more of the books as they come out. In particular I want to find out more about March’s mysterious past which is hinted in her flashbacks as well I would love to know exactly how her father and Sidney are connected. I just hope that the relationship between Sidney and March doesn’t turn romantic later on as I know its commonplace for many wards and guardians back then to marry. The Mangle Street Murders is a book that I would recommend to fans of mysteries like the Sherlock Holmes stories. Speaking of which, there is nod that is given to the creator of Sherlock Holmes in the book, which perhaps proves the fact that there is no such thing as coincidence.
If you like this book, you’ll love: Heirs of the Body by Carola Dunn
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.