Author – D. E. Meredith
Published – 2012
Genre – Historical crime fiction
In the interests of making a dent in my ‘read but not yet reviewed’ pile this will be one of a number of shorter reviews.
This debut novel by D. E. Meredith is the first book in the “Hatton and Roumande” series featuring early forensic scientist Professor Adolphus Hatton and his morgue assistant, Albert Roumande. The book is set in London in 1856 and opens when the pair are asked by Inspector Adams of Scotland Yard to examine a crime scene. The scene is the murder of Lady Bessingham, an independent and free thinking woman, and the disappearance of a stash of letters.
The story is told from multiple points of view and initially it’s not obvious how the stories of the different characters will link together. The backstory for the relationship between Lady Bessingham and Benjamin Borderig, a young man who has been off exploring the jungles of Borneo, is told through the missing letters which are interspersed through the chapters. Lady Bessingham isn’t the only one to die and other characters are disposed of in both gory and inventive ways.
The period in which the book is set allows the author to explore many contemporary topics – evolution and creationism, the roots of forensic science, the role of women in society – to name but a few. I did feel that it lacked a strong, positive woman though. And whilst the plot kept me guessing, I didn’t feel that I knew Hatton or Roumande any better by the end of the book.
An enjoyable read with lots of period detail. Many thanks to Allison & Busby for the review copy of the book, you can see another review at For Winter’s Nights.