From Goodreads: “London, June 1835: In the interest of being a good neighbour, Charles checks in on Miss Haverstock, the elderly spinster who resides in the flat above his. But as the young journalist and his fiance Kate ascend the stairs, they are assaulted by the unmistakable smell of death. Upon entering the woman’s quarters, they find her decomposing corpse propped up, adorned in a faded gown that looks like it could have been her wedding dress, had she been married. A murderer has set the stage. But to what purpose?
As news of an escaped convict from Coldbath Fields reaches the couple, Charles reasonably expects the prisoner, Ned Blood, may be responsible. But Kate suspects more personal motives, given the time and effort in dressing the victim. When a local blacksmith is found with cut manacles in his shop and arrested, his distraught wife begs Charles and Kate to help. At the inquest, they are surprised to meet Miss Haverstock’s cold and haughty foster daughter, shadowed by her miserably besotted companion. Secrets shrouded by the old woman’s past may hold the answers to this web of mystery. But Charles and Kate will have to risk their lives to unveil the truth . . .”
I enjoyed this audiobook. It’s a historical crime novel imagining Charles Dickens trying to solve the murder of his neighbour Miss Haverstock. I enjoyed the similar plot and names from Dickens own classic book Great Expectations, of Miss Haverstock ( Miss Haversham) Miss Jaggers (Estella) escaped convicts and a smithy.
In this series Charles Dickens isn’t a famous author yet, but a working journalist for The Chronicle which is owned by his fiance’s father. Even though it’s the second book in the series it didn’t really matter that I hadn’t read the first book as there was just enough backstory to fill me in.
I loved the author’s wonderful descriptions of Victorian London and at times felt like I was there with Mr Dickens and his fiance Kate Hogarth.
There was quite a lot going on in this story apart from Charles trying to solve the murder. He was also involved with helping a small group young mudlarks on the Thames, songwriting with one of his neighbours, which he was quite good at and earned a bit of extra cash. He also helped his parents neighbours who were being evicted by rent collectors. I must admit that I sometimes found some of these extra storylines a bit distracting and confusing taking me away from solving the murder. Perhaps that was the point though?
Tim Campbell is a new- to- me narrator, even though he has narrated over a hundred audiobooks!! I loved his portrayal of Dickens and the Hogarths, his Scottish and cockney accents were brilliant bringing authenticity to the recording.
I recommend this if you enjoy mysteries set in Victorian London.
Thanks to Hope Roy of Tantor Media for my digital copy of this audiobook.