One of London's first forensic detectives chases a grisly killer in this stunning debut mystery rich in period detail and sinister intrigue.
London in 1856 is gripped by a frightening obsession. The specimen-collecting craze is growing, and discoveries in far-off jungles are reshaping the known world in terrible and unimaginable ways. The new theories of evolution threaten to disrupt the fragile balance of power that keeps the chaotic city in ordera disruption that many would do just about anything to prevent.
When the glamorous Lady Bessingham is found murdered in her bedroom, surrounded by her vast collection of fossils and tribal masks, Adolphus Hatton and his morgue assistant Albert Roumande are called in to examine the crime sceneand the body. In the new and suspicious world of forensics and autopsy examinations, Hatton and Roumande are the best. But the crime scene is not confined to one room. In their efforts to help Scotland Yard's infamous Inspector Adams track down the Lady's killer, Hatton and Roumande uncover a trail of murders all connected to a packet of seditious letters that, if published, would change the face of society and religion irrevocably.
Denise Meredith's measured prose and eye for exquisite detail moves seamlessly from the filthy docks on the Isle of Dogs to the jungles of Borneo and the drawing rooms of London's upper class. Her slow-burning mystery builds to a shocking conclusion, consuming victimsand Victorian Londonas it goes.
The brutal murder of Lady Bessingham, a free thinker and leader in 1856 London society, is assigned to Inspector Adams, a rising star of Scotland Yard. He in turn calls in Professor Hatton, a pioneer in forensic science, and his assistant, Albert Roumande. The crime revolves around a missing packet of letters written by a young scientist that, if published as Lady Bessingham had planned, could radically change Victorian society. VERDICT Meredith's debut novel delves into the ugly secrets of that straight-laced time and believably renders life among the different social strata. There have been a number of extraordinarily good novels set in this time period recently. Think Michael Cox (The Meaning of Night) meets Jonathan Barnes (The Somnambulist). Strongly recommended for fans of historicals.