Kirkus Reviews

“Worth crossing the Atlantic for . . .”

Nothing is more likely to grab my attention as a reader than a mystery set in the dark and dodgy depths of Victorian London. So it should come as no surprise that I’m recommending James McCreet’s third detective thriller (after The Vice Society, 2010), which starts off with a puzzling murder on a bridge over the River Thames, ties that in with the loss of a ship and then quickly becomes a contest between crime solvers of unquestioned merit.

Inspector Albert Newsome, an arrogant member of the Metropolitan Police Force, recently exiled (because of what his superior terms disgraceful conduct) to river-policing duties, hopes to solve the disappearance of the brig Aurora and thereby win his old job back. However, police commissioner Sir Richard Mayne has different ideas.

Determined to prove his department’s competence in this challenging case, but dubious that his detectives can locate the vessel without aid, enlists—quite unofficially—Newsome and a disgraced former copper, George Williamson, to find the Aurora. The carrot: the first one to accomplish the task will be restored to the Detective Force. But they have further competition: a publicity-craving private sleuth—the wonderfully named Eldritch Batchem—whose past may give him useful insights into the criminal mind. McCreet’s prose rings with a mid-19th-century cadence fit for this atmospheric yarn.

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