A few weeks ago I picked up a remaindered copy of The Curse of the House of Foskett purely as an impulse buy, mostly because of the delightful cover (and because Bob Byrne’s love of all things Sherlock has been rubbing off on me). And thus I discovered The Gower Street Detective by M.R.C. Kasasian, a Victorian crime series starring a detective duo that’s been getting a lot of attention. The Daily Mail called the first book “One of the most delightful and original new novels of the year ― the first in a series that could well become a cult.” There are five volumes published or announced, including one that arrives in hardcover this week, and a fifth book due in December:
The Mangle Street Murders (320 pages, February 2014)
The Curse of the House of Foskett (408 pages, January 2015)
Death Descends on Saturn Villa (400 pages, March 2016)
The Secrets of Gaslight Lane (512 pages, April 4, 2017)
Dark Dawn Over Steep House (432 pages, December 5, 2017)
All five are published by Pegasus Books. They are priced at $25.95 in hardcover, $14.95 – $15.95 in trade paperback, and $9.99-$12.95 for the digital versions. The cover artist, sadly, is not credited.
[Click the images for bigger versions.]
So what are the books about? Here’s the description for The Mangle Street Murders.
The first in the charming, evocative, and sharply plotted Victorian crime series that is “a deft blend of accuracy and frivolity, sure to please lovers of historical mysteries.” (Shelf Awareness)
After her father dies, March Middleton has to move to London to live with her guardian, Sidney Grice, the country’s most famous private detective.
It is 1882 and London is at its murkiest yet most vibrant, wealthiest yet most poverty-stricken. No sooner does March arrive than a case presents itself: a young woman has been brutally murdered, and her husband is the only suspect. The victim’s mother is convinced of her son-in-law’s innocence, and March is so touched by her pleas she offers to cover Sidney’s fee herself.
The investigations lead the pair to the darkest alleys of the East End: every twist leads Sidney Grice to think his client is guilty; but March is convinced that he is innocent. Around them London reeks with the stench of poverty and gossip, the case threatens to boil over into civil unrest and Sidney Grice finds his reputation is not the only thing in mortal danger.
And here’s The Curse of the House of Foskett, since it’s the one that first grabbed me.
The much-anticipated second novel in the charming, sharply plotted Victorian crime series starring a detective duo to rival Holmes and Watson.
125 Gower Street, 1882.
Sidney Grice once had a reputation as London’s most perspicacious personal detective. But since his last case led an innocent man to the gallows, business has been light. Listless and depressed, Grice has taken to lying in the bath for hours, emerging in the evenings for a little dry toast and a lot of tea. Usually a voracious reader, he will pick up neither book nor newspaper. He has not even gathered the strength to re-insert his glass eye. His ward, March Middleton, has been left to dine alone.
Then an eccentric member of a Final Death Society has the temerity to die on his study floor. Finally, Sidney and March have an investigation to mount ― an investigation that will draw them to an eerie house in Kew, and the mysterious Baroness Foskett…
And here’s a taste of the praise that has been heaped on these books:
“Kasasian’s debut is an unflinching look at the darker side of Victorian London and a portrait of a heroine strong enough to stand up to a thoroughly disagreeable detective. Clever plotting, morbid humor, and colorful characters are a great treat.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Exceptional. The Grand Guignol plot line is leavened with laugh-out-loud passages showcasing both Grice’s literal-ness and disregard for social niceties.” — Publishers Weekly
“Think Lemony Snicket meets Neil Gaiman for tea in Dracula’s castle.” — Booklist
“The writing is flawless, packed full of delicious dialogue, voice-fueled narration, and many laugh-out-loud moments. My adoration of Sidney and March remains unshaken. Heartily enjoyed!” — Historical Novels Society
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