Today’s team review is from Terry. She blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.com/
Terry has been reading Desire And Deceit by Carol Hedges
5 out of 5 stars
I’ve just finished the final outing in this series of stand-alone Victorian murder mysteries, and every one has been a winner. Frankly I could carry on reading them ad infinitum, but I understand that a writer needs a change now and then!
We enter once more the world of Detectives Stride and Cully, in mid-nineteenth century London, and are introduced to a fine array of characters, many new faces and others whom we have met before. Of the latter, I particularly like Miss Lucy Landseer, private detective (or ‘detector’ as the owner of a exclusive tobacconists calls Cully and his protegée Tom Williams), who is the star of one of the secondary storylines; the main one centres around a dead body without a name, the questions being who is he, who killed him, and why?
Ms Hedges’ excellent plotting and characterisation shines out on every page, with her familiar themes rippling through the story: the massive chasm of difference between the haves and the have-nots, the pretentiousness of the aspirational lower middle class, the lot of women of all classes, corrupt MPs with their ‘jobs for the boys’ (no change there then) and complete disinterest in and disregard for the scum of humanity that floats beneath them (i.e., everyone else apart from their families and peers). Then there are the music hall artistes, the conmen, and those who think they can get away with murder.
I very much liked the parliamentary clerk known only as ‘the Replacement’ (the MP for which he works never does bother to find out his name), and Euphemia Harbinger, an elderly lady facing the end of her life, once celebrated in society, who is more wise and experienced than her grasping, inheritance-chasing family could ever imagine. I also loved Harriet Harbinger, a young girl being constantly overlooked in favour of her twin brother, who has her sights set on the high seas and adventure.
As ever, the threads of the story were satisfactorily wrapped up, but this time I finished it with a certain sadness, knowing there will not be any more. This book is an absolute treat, as are all of the other eight. If you haven’t read any of them yet, I envy you!
It is 1868, and the body of a young man has gone missing from the police mortuary at Scotland Yard, an event that has never happened before. Who was the mysterious corpse, and why was he spirited away in the night? These are the questions baffling Detective Inspector Stride and Detective Sergeant Cully as they set out to uncover the truth.
Meanwhile, two greedy, unscrupulous, inheritance-seeking brothers, Arthur and Sherborne Harbinger, descend upon London and their very rich dying aunt, each determined to get whatever they can out of her, and prepared to use whatever methods they can to win her favour. And over in her newly rented rooms in Baker Street, Miss Lucy Landseer, consulting private detective, has been presented with her first ever proper case to investigate ~ and finds it is one that will defy even her imaginative and inventive mind.
Set against the hottest summer on record, Desire & Deceit, the ninth outing for this popular Victorian Detectives series, explores how the love of money really is the root of all evil. Once again, Victorian London is brought to life in all its sights, its sounds, its sordid and gas-lit splendour. Another must-read book, teeming with memorable Dickensian-style characters.