Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Victorian #Mystery FAME & FORTUNE by @carolJhedges

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Fame & Fortune by Carol J Hedges

Once more I have explored the sordid streets of mid-Victorian London to follow the investigations of the determined team of police detectives, Stride, Cully and Greig. Carol Hedges has taken me into grand homes, crowded slums and insalubrious pubs, down by the docks. I have seen poor Izzy Harding spend all day painting tiny dolls’ furniture with little or no food, sat near to Riva Hemming-Stratton over tea while she turns her observation of other people into imaginative stories and I have suffered with the lonely Gerald Daubney as he mourns the loss of his netsuke Edo cat.  And the struggle of intelligent women to gain an education is shown by Maria Barklem, a vicar’s daughter soon to be made homeless because of the death of her parents.

Meanwhile in Russell Square two evil brothers, Herbert and Munro Black, exploit young girls dreams to lead them into prostitution across the sea.  Their tentacles of crime reach out across the city but somehow the police force must find evidence and witnesses to bring them to justice.

This is a much darker tale than Ms Hedges earlier novels, with more sad lives unfulfilled but characters from past books such as Lucy Landseer appear, providing solutions, and help at least some of the victims.  And through it all is a tiny grain of goodness in enough characters, such as Inspector Lachlan Greig, to give us hope.

Book description

When the body of a man is discovered hanging from some scaffolding under one of London’s bridges, Scotland Yard’s detective division is called in to solve the mystery of his identity & how he died. What they discover is a web of crime and extortion, and at the heart of it, two evil brothers, Munro and Herbert Black. Their inquiries will bring them into contact with the strange world of Gerald Daubney, collector of Japanese curios, whose priceless collection of netsuke has disappeared.

Facing a similar loss is Mrs Riva Hemmyng-Stratton, writer of ‘silver-fork’ novels, who suddenly finds herself embroiled in a court case when she is sued for defamation and libel by Lord Edwin Lackington. Her priceless reputation as a writer is on the line. How on earth can she prove her innocence when the only person who could vouch for it is incarcerated in a private asylum?

Many old friends make appearances in the novel … and a certain meaningful relationship finally reaches its conclusion.

AmazonUk |

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT RACK & RUIN by @carolJhedges #HistFic #WeekendBlogShare

Today’s Team Review is from Noelle, she blogs at http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Rack & Ruin by Carol J Hedges

Rack & Ruin (The Victorian Detectives Book 4) by [Carol Hedges]

 

I’ll start by telling you how much I enjoyed this mystery. It’s a bit different from the mysteries I’ve read to date, but it is a smashing historical who dunnit.

Set against an exquisitely detailed Victorian London – I could see myself there – the story is told from multiple points of view, each character fully developed. It begins with the discovery of the corpses of infants in the basement of an abandoned house on a street in the middle of demolition for the railway system. Inspector Lachlan Greig of the Bow Street Police has become aware of dark practice of baby farming (women and men who will take someone’s child and a sum of money for “looking after” on a permanent basis) and it falls to him to find the murderers.

A second thread involves two school friends – Daisy Lawton, daughter of a wealthy physician who lives in the lap of luxury and wants for nothing but marriage to a handsome man of social standing, and Letitia Simpkins, daughter of a penurious widower who treats her like a servant. She disdains marriage but craves for higher education and the employment that would bring, in order to get her away from her family. Daisy becomes engaged to a wealthy young man headed for Parliament but with a shadowy life with prostitutes and a decent woman carrying his baby. Letitia meets a librarian, Sarah Lunt, who believes Ladies should be educated and trained for a profession, and she quickly becomes the only light in Letitia’s gloomy life.

Add in a couple of anarchists with catchy names — Edwin Persiflage and Danton Waxwing – who work as clerks but who have deep grievances against the rich and privileged and who are determined to blow up parts of London, and Inspector Greig has another problem on his plate.

I loved the rounding of all the characters, major and minor, and especially gas-lit, crowded and filthy Victorian London, a character unto itself. The author is at once humorous and heart-breaking in her descriptions, never more so than in the plight of women in that time. The depth of her research and the colorful details with which she decorates the story lines is exceptional.

Ms. Hedges breaks the wall and talks directly to the reader at the beginning of the book (which is when it should be done, if at all), and most charmingly pulled me into the story.

Every aspect of this read was a delight, and I am looking forward to the next book!

Five stars

Book description

The city is in the grip of railway mania when the gruesome discovery of several infant corpses in an abandoned house forces Inspector Lachlan Greig of A Division, Bow Street Police Office and his men to enter the dark and horrific world of baby farming. It will take all Greig’s skill and ingenuity to track down the evil perpetrators and get justice for the murdered innocents.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com also available free from Kindle Unlimited

Rack & Ruin (The Victorian Detectives Book 4) by [Carol Hedges]

 

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT RACK & RUIN by @carolJhedges #Mystery #fridayreads

Today’s second team review is from Barb, she blogs at http://barbtaub.com/

I reviewed Resthaven for Rosie's Book Review Team

Barb has been reading Rack & Ruin by Carol Hedges

Rack & Ruin (The Victorian Detectives Book 4) by [Carol Hedges]

Even though I’m looking over my shoulder in case someone from my University is standing there demanding the return of my English Lit degree, I have to admit it: I don’t like Dickens. Or rather, I like everything about his books except the writing. I love his subjects, the tropes he uses and even invents. But I’m in luck! Carol Hedges, in her wonderful Victorian detective series, channels the most Dickensian of tropes without the overly sentimental, I-get-paid-by-the-word-so-I-never-use-one-where-six-would-do Dickensian mush. Consider the writing in her latest book in the Victorian Murder Mystery series:

  •  

    Priggish: In Dickens, the writing is an over the top mix of sentiment and satire, steeped in Victorian melodrama and sanctimonious prudishness. Author Hedges pares back the language to make every word count, while mixing in a welcome dose of humor. “It is much too early for urgent reports, but Greig begins to read it, silently tutting at the absence of paragraphing. As usual, the comma has looked in the face of the writer and decided not to disturb him.”

  • Emotional: Dickens’ characters and writing are constantly bouncing between narrowly suspicious and bizarrely credulous, making them seem shallow and flat. Hedges’ characters come complete with backstories that inform and drive their actions. Daisy Lawton, the beautiful young girl about to make her debut into Victorian society, could have been as one-dimensional as Lucie in Tale of Two Cities. Instead she has the conviction of friendship, and the example of her parents’ marriage to give depth to her character. Even better, despite clues and speculation on what drives Inspector Grieg, his backstory isn’t revealed until the end of the book.

He’s a single man. No children. But the Bow Street sergeants say he’s like a terrier after a rat up a drainpipe. Absolutely determined to catch                 these people, whatever it takes.

  • Social Critic: Dickens’ didn’t shy away from pointing out social issues, although his writing became increasingly dark as he realized that social woes such as poverty and child abuse were immune to his critique. It’s true that Carol Hedges has the advantage of 20-20 hindsight, but she uses that to take on the particularly difficult Victorian crime of baby farming, one which was virtually invisible to Londoners at the time, even though they routinely came across the corpses of children who had died of abuse or neglect. Rack & Ruin’s Inspector Grieg muses, “He regards it as deeply ironic that there are laws against mistreating animals, strict licensing laws for the numerous cow-keepers who supply the city with fresh milk, but not a single law to safeguard the lives of children.” 
  • Twisty Plots: Probably as a result of being initially published as serials—the soap operas of his day—Dickensian casts are huge, plots convoluted, and plot twists rely heavily on contrived coincidences. This was lampshaded by Oscar Wilde in his play, The Importance of Being Ernest, which earnestly—sorry, I couldn’t resist—entreats, “Now produce your explanation and pray make it improbable.”  But this is where Carol Hedges comes into her own. Without abandoning the properly Victorian tone, her plots involve lots of characters who are constantly running into each other as they pursue goals ranging from apprehending baby murderers, to making a socially acceptable marriage, to education for women, to blowing up Parliament. Although Rack & Ruin, like all books in this series, works as a standalone, it’s fun to welcome old friends like detectives Stride and Cully, and Cully’s wife Emily, while each has a role to play here. 

The descriptions of 1863 London are wonderful, especially as it contrasts the idyllic London of the upper and middle classes with the London being reshaped by the industrial revolution.

It is the month of May, and the city is in full bloom. Green leaves unfurl, yellow celandines peep from their lowly beds. Violets beckon coyly. Pink frothy waterfalls of blossom cascade from park cherry trees. Birds and bees go about the purposes for which they were created and everywhere from crook to cranny, in garden bed of bow pot warmth returns and nature reasserts itself in song, hum, bud and flower.

Except here.

Here there is only the shrill roar of escaping steam, the groans of machines heaving ponderous loads of earth to the surface, the blasts of explosives, and the clack of pumping devices as the future arrives in lines of steel rails and a thundering in the blood.

I really can’t say enough good things about this book and the whole series. If you want a great detective story, beautifully detailed within its historical context, with a well-rounded supporting cast, I recommend Rack & Ruin as well as the earlier books in this series. The pace accelerates to a satisfying conclusion, while the descriptions of London, Victorian language (frowsty?), and society at various levels is pure entertainment

 

Book description

The city is in the grip of railway mania when the gruesome discovery of several infant corpses in an abandoned house forces Inspector Lachlan Greig of A Division, Bow Street Police Office and his men to enter the dark and horrific world of baby farming. It will take all Greig’s skill and ingenuity to track down the evil perpetrators and get justice for the murdered innocents.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com also available free from Kindle Unlimited

Rack & Ruin (The Victorian Detectives Book 4) by [Carol Hedges]

 

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT RACK & RUIN by @carolJhedges #wwwblogs

Today’s second team review is from Cathy, she blogs at http://betweenthelinesbookblog.com

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Rack & Ruin by Carol Hedges

Rack & Ruin (The Victorian Detectives  Book 4) by [Carol Hedges]

It’s the spring of 1863 in the city of London, and as Hind Street is being demolished to make way for the railway, something horrifying is uncovered by the construction workers. Inspector Lachlan Greig of the Metropolitan Police, based in Bow Street, is called to the scene, where the bodies of eleven dead babies have been discovered.

When the wonderfully named Edwin Persiflage and Danton Waxwing, who lodge in Hind Street, decide they have a grievance against the rich and privileged and declare themselves anarchists, they pose a threat to the public resulting in yet another problem for Inspector Greig.

Miss Daisy Lawton is living in a different world altogether. Full of the joys of spring, she’s young, pretty, well to do and on her way to meet her best friend from school, Letitia Simpkins. The two girls have vastly different backgrounds – Daisy is secure in the love of her family and the knowledge life only promises good things, such as being in love, shopping and parties. Whereas Letitia has a tricky and strained family life, at the beck and call of her parents and only a step up from the servants. The only light at end of her very dark tunnel is a well-timed meeting with librarian, Sarah Lunt, who is of the opinion ladies should be able to study and train for a profession. Letitia herself loves learning and believes there should be more to life than waiting for a man to offer marriage.

As in her previous books, Carol Hedges’ vivid and engaging prose recreates the atmosphere and flavour of Victorian London and its inhabitants evocatively, so that I was transported back in time immediately. The story gives considerable realisation and understanding of life at that time, across the many societal levels of the population. The characters are portrayed extremely well, including the secondary ones, and whether they’re likeable or not they draw the attention.

Lachlan Greig is a wonderful addition to the stories, I like him a lot, and it was good to get reacquainted with Stride and Cully. The plight of, and non-existent civil rights for, women in Victorian times is highlighted, not only by the machinations of Daisy’s mother and Letitia’s horrible situation but also with those who are forced, for whatever reason, to seek the services of the so-called ‘baby minders’. People who are at best unscrupulous, and at worst guilty of mass infanticide. The obviously in depth research needed for this story must have been heartbreaking.

I’m loving these books and am very glad to know there will be another.

Book description

The city is in the grip of railway mania when the gruesome discovery of several infant corpses in an abandoned house forces Inspector Lachlan Greig of A Division, Bow Street Police Office and his men to enter the dark and horrific world of baby farming. It will take all Greig’s skill and ingenuity to track down the evil perpetrators and get justice for the murdered innocents.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com also available free from Kindle Unlimited

Rack & Ruin (The Victorian Detectives Book 4) by [Carol Hedges]

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT RACK & RUIN by @carolJhedges #SundayBlogShare

Today’s second team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Rack & Ruin by Carol Hedges

Rack & Ruin (The Victorian Detectives  Book 4) by [Carol Hedges]

In “Rack & Ruin” Victorian progress continues apace. The age of the railway has begun and people’s homes are being knocked down to make way for the tracks. It is 1863 and lowly bank clerks, Danton Waxwing and Edwin Persiflage relieve the monotony of their daily drudge by plotting anarchist deeds. Inspector Lachlan Greig, however, is more concerned with the discovery of tiny bodies revealed by the railway company’s explosives.

Meanwhile in Fitzroy Square, Daisy Lawton, spoilt daughter of an eminent surgeon, tries on beautiful dresses, in which to meet a potential husband. Her former school friend, Tishy Simpkins, would prefer to continue her studies aided by the Ladies’ Literary and Philosophical Society, but she is enforced to look after her young brothers and attend to domestic tasks, by her uncaring father. Amongst the other characters in the novel is young engineer, Fred Grizewood, who would dearly love to discuss his ideas with his renowned mentor, Joseph Balgazette, but an unexpected event changes his life profoundly.

This novel is rich with mid Victorian life, from the gutter press to the fine drawing rooms and on to rough pubs frequented by villains and prostitutes. Struggling in this hectic world, are oppressed women, caring police officers and evil baby farmers.

I take particular pleasure from the authentic 19th century writing style, so fitting to the subject matter and my knowledge is enriched by the inclusion of words which are new to me, such as “cynosure”. The definition of this word, used by Carol Hedges, is, “something that strongly attracts attention by its brilliance.” I think that’s an accurate description of this book.

Book description

The city is in the grip of railway mania when the gruesome discovery of several infant corpses in an abandoned house forces Inspector Lachlan Greig of A Division, Bow Street Police Office and his men to enter the dark and horrific world of baby farming. It will take all Greig’s skill and ingenuity to track down the evil perpetrators and get justice for the murdered innocents.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com also available free from Kindle Unlimited

Rack & Ruin (The Victorian Detectives Book 4) by [Carol Hedges]

 

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT RACK & RUIN by @carolJhedges #HistFic #Mystery

Today’s second team review is from Terry, she blogs at http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Terry has been reading Rack & Ruin by Carol Hedges

Rack & Ruin (The Victorian Detectives  Book 4) by [Carol Hedges]

5 out of 5 stars

I’ve read the other three of Carol Hedges’ colourful, amusing and really rather brilliant Victorian murder mystery series, and this was every bit as good.  They’re complete stand alones, by the way, no need to read them in order.

Rack & Ruin follows the stories of several wonderful characters: lovely, outwardly superficial, privileged Daisy Lawton, a girl looking forward to her first ‘season’; Ms Hedges very cleverly avoided the trap of making her merely empty-headed, but gave her a heart of gold, too, especially when it came to her friend, poor Letitia, who is bound to a life of drudgery by her horrible father.  Then we have the would-be anarchists, Persiflage and Waxwing, Scottish detective Lachlan Greig, and various other upper middle class ne’er-do-wells, street rogues and those eager to make money by foul means, mostly the evil ‘baby minders’ around whom the story centres.

Inspector Lachlan Greig: ‘… a certain glint in his eye possessed by those who have found they are generally more intelligent than most people around them but haven’t yet learned that the most intelligent thing they can do is not to let said people find this out.’

Mr Sprowle, landlord: ‘… educated in the School of Hard Knocks, leading to a degree in Resentment.’

Just two lines I picked out, there are so many more little gems.

This book is not just a clever story with hilarious characterisation and descriptions so good you want to read them twice.  It’s an insight into how difficult life really was for women in those days, only 150 years ago, and a view into Victorian London as clear as any film or TV drama series.  When I got to 84% I thought ‘oh, no, I’ve only got a little bit left’, and tried to make it last as long as possible.

I believe this might be the last in the series but I do hope not; as long as Carol Hedges keeps writing these books I’ll keep reading them as soon as they’re available, and you should, too!

Book description

The city is in the grip of railway mania when the gruesome discovery of several infant corpses in an abandoned house forces Inspector Lachlan Greig of A Division, Bow Street Police Office and his men to enter the dark and horrific world of baby farming. It will take all Greig’s skill and ingenuity to track down the evil perpetrators and get justice for the murdered innocents.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com also available free from Kindle Unlimited

Rack & Ruin (The Victorian Detectives Book 4) by [Carol Hedges]