Monday, 5 August 2013
Tom-All-Alone's by Lynn Shepherd
It is Tulkinghorn who employs Maddox to track down the identity of a blackmailer – but when the perpetrator dies in a house fire, Charles suspects foul play. What are those dark and dirty secrets that Tulkinghorn is at such pains to suppress? This is the mystery that drives Charles to clash with the powerful lawyer and to repeatedly endanger his own life.
There is a huge cast of characters here, among them are more echoes of Bleak House: a young lady named Hester and her benefactor, Mr Jarvis, plus the tenacious policeman, Inspector Bucket. There are kindly prostitutes, and the quirky characters of Charles’s own household, including his mentally fragile Uncle Maddox, his old retainer, Stornaway and Molly, the mute African maid.
Charles himself is a terrific character - energetic and smart, yet hounded by demons of his own, including a lurking guilt over the disappearance of his little sister when he was a boy. This back-story will no doubt crop up in further books in the series, and I for one hope there will be plenty more as this is one of the smartest and most engaging period mysteries I have read in a long time.
Reviewed by JAM
Catalogue Link: Tom-All-Alone's
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