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Gower Street, London, 1882: Sidney Grice, London's most famous personal detective, is expecting a visitor. He drains his fifth pot of morning tea, and glances outside, where a young, plain woman picks her way between the piles of horse-dung towards his front door. March Middleton is Sidney Grice's ward, and she is determined to help him on his next case. Her guardian thinks Gower Street, London, 1882: Sidney Grice, London's most famous personal detective, is expecting a visitor. He drains his fifth pot of morning tea, and glances outside, where a young, plain woman picks her way between the piles of horse-dung towards his front door. March Middleton is Sidney Grice's ward, and she is determined to help him on his next case. Her guardian thinks women are too feeble for detective work, but when a grisly murder in the slums proves too puzzling for even Sidney Grice's encyclopaedic brain, March Middleton turns out to be rather useful after all... Set in a London still haunted by the spectre of the infamous Spring-heeled Jack, THE MANGLE STREET MURDERS is for those who like their crime original, atmospheric, and very, very funny.


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Gower Street, London, 1882: Sidney Grice, London's most famous personal detective, is expecting a visitor. He drains his fifth pot of morning tea, and glances outside, where a young, plain woman picks her way between the piles of horse-dung towards his front door. March Middleton is Sidney Grice's ward, and she is determined to help him on his next case. Her guardian thinks Gower Street, London, 1882: Sidney Grice, London's most famous personal detective, is expecting a visitor. He drains his fifth pot of morning tea, and glances outside, where a young, plain woman picks her way between the piles of horse-dung towards his front door. March Middleton is Sidney Grice's ward, and she is determined to help him on his next case. Her guardian thinks women are too feeble for detective work, but when a grisly murder in the slums proves too puzzling for even Sidney Grice's encyclopaedic brain, March Middleton turns out to be rather useful after all... Set in a London still haunted by the spectre of the infamous Spring-heeled Jack, THE MANGLE STREET MURDERS is for those who like their crime original, atmospheric, and very, very funny.

30 review for The Mangle Street Murders

  1. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    The Mangle Street Murders by M.R.C. Kasasian is a 2013 by Head of Zeus publication. The latest installment of this series was recommended to me a little while back, but I had not read the first three books yet, so without investigating the series too closely, I checked the first book out of the library, ready to dive into what appeared to be a cozy historical mystery. Well, um.. This is not a cozy mystery. At first, I was not at all sure how I felt about the esteemed Sidney Grice. If I had read The Mangle Street Murders by M.R.C. Kasasian is a 2013 by Head of Zeus publication. The latest installment of this series was recommended to me a little while back, but I had not read the first three books yet, so without investigating the series too closely, I checked the first book out of the library, ready to dive into what appeared to be a cozy historical mystery. Well, um.. This is not a cozy mystery. At first, I was not at all sure how I felt about the esteemed Sidney Grice. If I had read this book last year, I probably would have lauded the dark humor, the satirical tone, and maybe even tipped my hat to the author a bit, although, I admit, even under the best of circumstances, he really did push the envelope too far, and crossed some lines that would even shock the most cynical, mean, and unsympathetic person out there. However, this type of dark satire, just isn’t as funny to me right now, although, I’m sure it was meant to poke fun at or spoof, the fictional private detectives who are always right, have impeccable instincts, and spooky powers of deduction, and are arrogant beyond belief. (I believe Sherlock Holmes was a prime candidate here, and most likely the intended target, but there are others who could have been at least a partial model for the author’s wrath) Still, I had to know what was going to take place with the murder investigation, so I continued on with the book, even though I wasn’t sure if I ‘d continue with this series. March Middleton, an orphan, becomes Sidney Grice’s ward, because he owned her father a debt of gratitude. It becomes clear, that the one-eyed detective is a mean -spirited man who has an addiction to tea, dislikes the police, and refuses to show even the slighted human sympathy for anyone or anything, and sees no need to apologize for his boorishness. Although I believe I am grasping the author’s intent- and I DO hope I have that part right- I don’t have it in me right now to appreciate that type of dark and twisted humor, even if it is a spoof. The mystery begins before March gets unpacked or a chance to settle in her new home. A Grace Dillinger arrives pleading with Grice to help her son-in-law, who has been accused of murdering her daughter, Sarah. Grice employs March as his assistant, and the two begin to work toward discovering the truth behind Sarah's murder. Almost overpowered by Grice’s overbearing persona, March’s character, had it been the most forceful one, would have made the book much more pleasurable. March, is not the biddable type, and is quite scandalous in her own right. She smokes, drinks, and keeps company with a devout feminist, whose thinking and habits are in sync with March’s. But, despite the characterization’s dominating force, the mystery is quite good. The crime is very puzzling, even though I did figure out some portions of the story in advance. There are some unexpected twists, however, and I was taken totally by surprise on several occasions, with the conclusion adding one more final nail in the coffin. That last bit might have been overkill, if you’ll pardon the pun, but it still added an even more stunning portrait of a very evil, cunning, and diabolical criminal. This one is not for the faint of heart, and includes grisly descriptions, with dialogue that some will find offensive, or hard to digest. I have already downloaded the second book in the series, so I suppose I should give it a second chance, even if my heart isn’t totally into it. Who knows, perhaps March will be able to humanize Grice just a little, making him somewhat palatable. However, I can tell you, straight up, that if the character continues on in this vein, I will have to put the series aside until I can approach it with a different frame of mind. To do otherwise would be doing an injustice to myself and to the series.

  2. 4 out of 5

    John

    Bad news first: I loathed the Great Detective, Sidney Grice, who had all of Holmes and Poirot's pompousness and petulance, with nary a hint of their charm. Towards the end of the book, he seemed to become (slightly) more human, enough that I would be willing to give him a second chance at being in another book, rather than a complete deal-breaker of a character. His "gimmick" of fiddling with his glass eye didn't really work for me, although his being a vegetarian was interesting, and I did agre Bad news first: I loathed the Great Detective, Sidney Grice, who had all of Holmes and Poirot's pompousness and petulance, with nary a hint of their charm. Towards the end of the book, he seemed to become (slightly) more human, enough that I would be willing to give him a second chance at being in another book, rather than a complete deal-breaker of a character. His "gimmick" of fiddling with his glass eye didn't really work for me, although his being a vegetarian was interesting, and I did agree with his dislike of milk in tea! Much better news: his "ward" (later assistant) March Middleton, a young Victorian orphan we first encounter smoking, and drinking gin from a flask. Her mother having died in childbirth, she spent her life traveling with her army surgeon father, sometimes assisting him in operations, so that viewing corpses turns out not to faze her as much as expected. Apparently, Grice knew her mother, but refuses to say anything more about that beyond acknowledging the fact; let us hope he doesn't turn out to be her natural father! March feels free to tell off Grice when she feels he's gone too far in his arrogance. Overall, she's a pretty neat character, and I'd be interested to see how she develops. Plot itself was interesting in terms of suspense, although I wasn't wild about the ending (which I'm not sure I understood exactly). Audio narration took some getting used to, but by the middle of the book it was obvious Lindy Nettleton is a good fit for the series.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I think this author should be thankful Sherlock Holmes is in public domain because this doesn't pay homage to Holmes as much as it just blatantly steals from it. A brilliant personal detective, who has been befriended by a London police inspector, despite being anti-social to the extreme, has a protege who he reluctantly allows to help solve cases. And the protege happens to have a wealth of medical knowledge. The slight change of details: he is clean living as opposed to Holmes dubious habits; I think this author should be thankful Sherlock Holmes is in public domain because this doesn't pay homage to Holmes as much as it just blatantly steals from it. A brilliant personal detective, who has been befriended by a London police inspector, despite being anti-social to the extreme, has a protege who he reluctantly allows to help solve cases. And the protege happens to have a wealth of medical knowledge. The slight change of details: he is clean living as opposed to Holmes dubious habits; his protege is a women who gained her knowledge helping her father who served as a medical officer in India (close enough!)..and...uh, nope. Those about the only changes. Oh, and he wants his protege to write about his exploits solving cases. *cough* Some of the insults going back and forth between the different characters were droll enough, and it would have made the book bearable if the actual murder mystery had been any good. But the tediousness of the murder mystery combined with the terrible feeling of deju vu from the characters left me feeling like I had just read some half-edited fan fiction.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    Absolutely enjoyed this Victorian who done it starring the irascible SIDNEY Grice and his young ward, March Middleton. A successful personal detective Sidney has few redeeming qualities. He is rude, lacks compassion and is sure he is always right. What makes this novel so different is the wonderfully witty dialogue between he and March and the fact that March more than holds her own. Fun, different, interesting cases, I look forward to the next outing of this mismatched but amusing duo.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Veronique

    Sherlockian figures abound in literature, as in films, displaying their superior intelligence while being more or less socially inept, but I must admit that Sidney Grice is probably the most obnoxious one yet! Here is a totally dislikeable character - so why did I read and enjoy this novel? Well, Kasasian also gives us the fascinating Miss March Middleton, narrator of the story, who is indeed much more palatable, but a conundrum herself. There is much more to the lady than what is visible and th Sherlockian figures abound in literature, as in films, displaying their superior intelligence while being more or less socially inept, but I must admit that Sidney Grice is probably the most obnoxious one yet! Here is a totally dislikeable character - so why did I read and enjoy this novel? Well, Kasasian also gives us the fascinating Miss March Middleton, narrator of the story, who is indeed much more palatable, but a conundrum herself. There is much more to the lady than what is visible and the author reveals little, mostly by exposition. The interactions between these two strong-willed protagonists is of course full of sparks, neither conforming to Victorian norms, and thus very entertaining (and sometimes not devoid of humour). In between these two, let's not forget Inspector Pound who provides some normalcy. The crime/mystery element leads us into the darker and brutal side of London, from the morgue to the slums. The plot is nicely put together, with plenty of twists and turns, great dialogue and gritty details. Apart from wanting to find out more about Middleton, I do wonder if Grice will change, or rather our perception of him. So, yes, I shall read the next instalment.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Elisha Condie

    Well, it was a cheap Nook book, and the cover was nice, and something about summer just leads me to want to read a good mystery. But this really wasn't one. The author is really trying to make a Holmes-Watson pair out of Sidney Grice and March Middleton. Sidney has all of Holmes' arrogance but none of his charm. In fact, I kept wishing someone would push him down a flight of stairs. March is lovely; a smart, somewhat independent girl in Victorian England who proves her mettle by never backing Well, it was a cheap Nook book, and the cover was nice, and something about summer just leads me to want to read a good mystery. But this really wasn't one. The author is really trying to make a Holmes-Watson pair out of Sidney Grice and March Middleton. Sidney has all of Holmes' arrogance but none of his charm. In fact, I kept wishing someone would push him down a flight of stairs. March is lovely; a smart, somewhat independent girl in Victorian England who proves her mettle by never backing down from the coroner's lab or whatever body is turning up next. Yeah, yeah, March. You're one tough cookie. Sidney only takes on cases for money, and he hates almost everyone and everything and as I said before, is begging to be pushed down a flight of stairs. Or punched in the face. And the mystery unravels with some twists, a SUPER let down of an ending, and me itching to read a Miss Marple, Holmes, or even a Nancy Drew mystery to take ol' Sidney Grice out of my mind.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This is the first in the Gower Street Detective series featuring ‘personal’ detective, Sidney Grice, his ward March Middleton and with Inspector Pound as a third, but also important, character. Set in the 1880’s, neither Grice, nor Middleton, conform to our expectations of staid and proper Victorians. Grice is eccentric, rude, money obsessed and decidedly ungentlemanly. March has grown up assisting her father, who was a doctor in India, and is not apt to swoon when faced with a gruesome body – b This is the first in the Gower Street Detective series featuring ‘personal’ detective, Sidney Grice, his ward March Middleton and with Inspector Pound as a third, but also important, character. Set in the 1880’s, neither Grice, nor Middleton, conform to our expectations of staid and proper Victorians. Grice is eccentric, rude, money obsessed and decidedly ungentlemanly. March has grown up assisting her father, who was a doctor in India, and is not apt to swoon when faced with a gruesome body – but rather indulge in a nip of gin and a cigarette. Although often described as ‘plain’, it is obvious that Inspector Pound is a little besotted with her and we also have snippets from letters, suggesting that March has had a serious love affair, ending in tragedy, in her past. She is more than capable of standing up to the larger than life Grice and is both sharp talking and sharp witted. We first meet March on her way to London, to meet her guardian for the first time. Shortly after her arrival, a woman appears begging for help. Her daughter has been stabbed in the shop she ran with her son in law and he has been accused of her murder. When it is obvious she is unable to pay for Grice’s assistance, March offers to pay for his services, if she can accompany him. There follows a romp through Victorian London, with several murders and a lot of dark humour. This is a good beginning to a series, which looks very promising indeed. Both Grice and March are likeable characters, with all their flaws and exaggerations and Inspector Pound offers a little serious policing amongst the mayhem. There is a cameo appearance by Conan Doyle, but this is more than just a homage to Holmes. I would certainly continue the series and look forward to reading further adventures. This is a strange mix of the light hearted and the gruesome, but it words very well. Rated 3.5

  8. 4 out of 5

    *Thea 'Wookiee'sMama' Wilson*

    I found this book to be a breath of fresh air in a genre that is often rather serious and pretty gory. This is not necessarily the sort of book I might choose for myself but I am very glad that Head Of Zeus gave me the opportunity to read this book as if I had given it a miss I would have missed a real treat of a book (and my friend Jo would have never have read about the book on my blog, she'd have never have bought it for herself and wouldn't have had the chance to enjoy it either!). What drew I found this book to be a breath of fresh air in a genre that is often rather serious and pretty gory. This is not necessarily the sort of book I might choose for myself but I am very glad that Head Of Zeus gave me the opportunity to read this book as if I had given it a miss I would have missed a real treat of a book (and my friend Jo would have never have read about the book on my blog, she'd have never have bought it for herself and wouldn't have had the chance to enjoy it either!). What drew me to The Mangle Street Murders first was the rather attractive red cover, a very striking front cover giving the facade of a Victorian London townhouse with silhouettes of a man and a women who you presume to be the two lead characters. The cover gives a great first impression of the book (and the sequel has an equally attractive cover too but in blue this time - see the end of the post for details). The second thing that drew me in was the write up for the book - the blurb. It made it very clear that this would be a historical piece, and I am a sucker for anything remotely historical relating to the UK, particularly England. At this point the fact that the book was a crime book didn't really matter as I have read other crime books with a genre background and really enjoyed them (I'm talking mainly about the Peter Grant novels by Ben Aaronovitch, about a modern day policeman who can do magic and fights monsters!). This books has not let me down in any way, it was everything I expected, EVERYTHING! The book centres around Sidney Grice, a famous private 'personal' detective (never call Grice a 'private' detective) and his new ward March Middleton. I have to say that Sidney Grice is a man very, very set in his ways and to be quite frank he is a bit of a sexist git with a tendancy to being a rather rude man. He firmly believes that women have a certain place in the world, a belief that is shaken by the arrival of Miss March Middleton from the country. Grice takes March in out of some sense of duty, although you are never entirely sure why he did (saying that a lot of men in those times took in young female wards as some sort of status symbol, and very often ended up marrying them - a taste of things to come maybe? Who knows!). Grice reluctantly agrees to let March accompany him on his new case, after March kind of tricks her way into helping him and by the end of the book she has firmly established herself as a useful tool, but I expect her to become much more than that in the future, especially as she now had Grice's number and knows how to manipulate him and how to get her way. The story could have been filled with gore but the author has decided not to make a big feature of the deaths, focusing firmly on the crime solvers and how they figure out what has happened. I think, in this case, that this was the correct move as it really lets the more humourous side of the book shine through, although it is very tongue-in-cheek humour. Yes, you can make certain comparisons to Sherlock Holmes (Grice), Watson (Middleton) and Lestrade (Inspector Pound), in fact Mr Conan Doyle gets a cheeky little cameo at one point in the book which is rather amusing. I think the author does make the format his very own and his characters are very well written and put together. As I said Grice can be a bit unlikeable but you find yourself strangely liking the man for it as it does make him very interesting to read, and also very intriguing as you cannot be sure what is going to come out of the man's mouth next. March could have the weak link in the story and to begin with she does seem very meek and mousey, but this soon changes and she becomes a very strong character indeed, the perfect foil for Mr Grice. In conclusion I found this book a pleasure to read, it's well written and while at times in the book things don't entirely make sense you find that by the end of the book it all makes perfect sense and it's given a satisfying conclusion. I am actually very excited to read the next book in the series to see where things will go next.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    This was *ok*.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tras

    It was Thursday. I was in a hurry to get out that morning because I had run out of cigarettes and there is something about tobacco which I find almost addictive. I loved this book! It's smart, funny, inventive, and there's a rollickingly good Victorian murder mystery underpinning the whole thing. March and Sidney are an absolute delight, whilst the writing is literally overflowing with the most wonderfully knowing observations, witty asides, and deadpan humour. The author takes a multitude of Vic It was Thursday. I was in a hurry to get out that morning because I had run out of cigarettes and there is something about tobacco which I find almost addictive. I loved this book! It's smart, funny, inventive, and there's a rollickingly good Victorian murder mystery underpinning the whole thing. March and Sidney are an absolute delight, whilst the writing is literally overflowing with the most wonderfully knowing observations, witty asides, and deadpan humour. The author takes a multitude of Victorian tropes and pokes fun at them in hilarious ways, until they are lying prostrate begging for mercy and declaring that women can have the vote after all! I have zero hesitation about jumping face first into the follow up. Sincerely hope this is a series that never ends. "A grimy girl in a crumpled black dress stood against a pillar, looking about her expectantly. ‘Are you Molly?’ I asked. ‘Shit off,’ she said, and stumbled away. ‘I shall take it that you are not,’ I called after her.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Primrose Jess

    What a hilariously clever read! If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes, you will either be horrified at the caricature of him that Grice is or you will be delighted with the humor in it. I am in the camp of the delighted in the humor of the pompous, observant workings the personal (not private) investigator brings to the cases he accepts. His ward, March Middleton, is a closet smoker and gin drinker with a deliciously sharp mind. The sniping dialogue between the two of them alone is a solid reason What a hilariously clever read! If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes, you will either be horrified at the caricature of him that Grice is or you will be delighted with the humor in it. I am in the camp of the delighted in the humor of the pompous, observant workings the personal (not private) investigator brings to the cases he accepts. His ward, March Middleton, is a closet smoker and gin drinker with a deliciously sharp mind. The sniping dialogue between the two of them alone is a solid reason to pick up this book. Another great reason is a love of a who dunnit story. A woman is found stabbed 40 times. The work of her husband, friend, or serial killer? When Grice feels his has the case tied up rather neatly, March feels a most serious error has occurred. But the famed detective Grice never is wrong... or could he be?

  12. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Kaiser

    I’m a bit torn how to review this novel since I enjoyed reading it because I just LOVE a whodunit set in the late 19th century but loathed the personal investigator Sidney Grice throughout the entire book. He is for sure smart and very educated but lacks the charm of Poirot, Holmes and other famous detectives. March Middleton is a great character and narrator of this story but I hope her personality will evolve from a female Watson into a unique literary figure in the upcoming novels.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    I shouldn't have liked this book. But I did. I actually liked it quite a lot. The main character - Sidney Grice - is one of the most thoroughly unpleasant and nasty people I've read about in a while. He is selfish, completely without regard for any other human being and utterly and unrepentently caught up in his own sense of self-importance. He is sarastic and clueless about the niceties of "polite" society. And yet, I could not stop reading about him and his exploits. I can't honestly say I liked I shouldn't have liked this book. But I did. I actually liked it quite a lot. The main character - Sidney Grice - is one of the most thoroughly unpleasant and nasty people I've read about in a while. He is selfish, completely without regard for any other human being and utterly and unrepentently caught up in his own sense of self-importance. He is sarastic and clueless about the niceties of "polite" society. And yet, I could not stop reading about him and his exploits. I can't honestly say I liked Grice, because I did not. I was as appalled by his lack of social skilss as was everyone else who came into contact with him in the book. And yet, you can't dispute that in almost every situation, his prounouncements - rude and thoughtless as they are - turn out to be correct. So while one may quibble with his methods, one cannot dispute his results. Grice's awful personality is muted somewhat by the introduction of March Middleton as his ward. March provides the humanity in the situations they are in during the course of the investigations in the story, but even she is a non-traditional female for her time. March is an independent and intelligent woman in a time when these qualities were definitely not seen as desirable. So the counterpoint between the two, and the humour with which the author writes the snappy repartee between them somehow manages to make the absolutely awful things Grice says and does funny and entertaining. Throughout the entire book, I continually found myself thinking that I should be ashamed of myself for laughing at the things Grice and Middleton get up to. And I was, but March saying the things that any decent person would to Grice's lack of human decency helps. It is frequently March who gets the lines that make the reader laugh, and reduces the tension of detesting Grice. The murder mystery they are investigating is cleverly-conceived, and has plenty of drama and action to keep the pages turning. The supporting characters, too, are interesting and unpredictable and add to the overall interest of the book. If you are thinking that Grice sounds very much like another famous detective without much in the way of social skills, you would be correct, although even that other renowned detective might blush at some of the things Sidney Grice says and does. But there is a very clever reference to the similarities in the two men near the end of the book, which I liked. Overall, a very unusual sort of murder mystery, with highly unusual but strangely likeable characters to fill it out. If you like the Victorian era murder mystery, slightly off-centre characters and black humour, this may be a good read for you. For my part, I was shame-facedly but thoroughly entertained by this story!

  14. 5 out of 5

    charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)

    The best lies are always flavoured with the truth but if the substance is rotten, it will stink no matter how much you try to disguise it. I love murder mysteries. If you gave me the choice between any book and a murder mystery, I would pick the murder mystery every time. I didn’t actually pick this one out though. My mum got it (and the second) and I borrowed the first one to read because she wasn’t. As far as murder mysteries go, it wasn’t the best I’ve read. I think that’s the problem when The best lies are always flavoured with the truth but if the substance is rotten, it will stink no matter how much you try to disguise it. I love murder mysteries. If you gave me the choice between any book and a murder mystery, I would pick the murder mystery every time. I didn’t actually pick this one out though. My mum got it (and the second) and I borrowed the first one to read because she wasn’t. As far as murder mysteries go, it wasn’t the best I’ve read. I think that’s the problem when you want to introduce a brilliant detective kind of character (a la Holmes and Poirot), you lose the reader being able to follow the story and perhaps solve it themselves. Because your brilliant detective doesn’t deign to tell people what they’re thinking and what they’re doing, you have your sidekick (there’s always a sidekick, and I’ll come to her in a moment) in the dark, and because this follows the pattern of both Conan Doyle and Christie (it’s written in the first person, from the point of view of the sidekick – who is invariably nowhere near as brilliant as the detective), you also lose the reader. Saying that, March Middleton is a much better sidekick than either Hastings or Watson ever was. Both of them struggled to keep up with their respective detectives intellectually and often would have to ask how bits of the mystery tied together. March, however, is much more intelligent than them, and there are some great moments in this book where she teases the clues out of people by spotting things that others haven’t noticed (except maybe Sidney Grice, but we’ll never know because it’s her POV, so I’m going to choose to believe that he didn’t notice them, thanks). Besides being intelligent, March is absolutely not here for any of your Victorian misogyny (she doesn’t always call it out – when she does it’s wonderful – but there’s always an eyeroll implied in her narration). This part of March’s narration helps a lot of offset the gross misogyny that Sidney Grice shows (even after March has surely proved herself!!) and it’s probably why I didn’t choose to give up the book when (view spoiler)[about halfway through, when the suspect’s been found guilty, Grice provokes (disgustingly) the person who hired him to find the suspect innocent - he claims he doesn’t do finding people innocent, he finds the truth (hide spoiler)] . Admittedly, this has a point (which we don’t find out until the end – Brilliant Detective Syndrome, I’m going to call it) but it’s still horrible. Which brings me to Grice himself. If this were a book solely about him, with no distractions, I would have given up by halfway through. Sidney Grice is a completely objectionable man, who doesn’t care about hurting others, and looks down on women (he refers to them as the “crueller sex” at one point). I get that the looking down on women is typical of the time period, but he still does it even after (view spoiler)[the trip to the morgue where, you’d have thought, March proves herself (hide spoiler)] . Even people like Inspector Pound start to respect her at that point. I detested Sidney Grice to begin with and had hardly changed my opinion by the end (perhaps I was a little more sympathetic, I don’t know). I feel like that isn’t great writing. Your character has not changed one bit in 300+ pages? Excuse me while I shake my head in disbelief. I’m hoping Grice will get some sort of comeuppance in book two. (Especially given the glee he shows on finding the suspect has been hanged. I get these brilliant detectives are supposed to be “above” everyone else on some level, but why do none of them seem to have any humanity whatsoever? Case in point, this is something Grice says: The poor, I am told, are kind to each other but that is because they have nothing to lose. The rich cannot afford to be. And that’s one of his less horrible quotes.) But, despite Grice, the story is well put together, and the identity of the murderer was (to me, at least) a surprise. I still hope the second book improves on the first, though.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Geordie

    March Middleton goes to live with her guardian, the famous detective Sidney Grice, in this murder mystery set in Victorian era London. The prose of the book is quite clever, and March has a lot of redeeming qualities - and really, I WANT to like this book, but I don't. Sidney Grice is an ugly jerk, a racist and a sexist who treats everyone, especially the lower classes, like shit. Pardon the language, but by no means does he treat anyone like trash or rubbish, he treats them like shit, no other wo March Middleton goes to live with her guardian, the famous detective Sidney Grice, in this murder mystery set in Victorian era London. The prose of the book is quite clever, and March has a lot of redeeming qualities - and really, I WANT to like this book, but I don't. Sidney Grice is an ugly jerk, a racist and a sexist who treats everyone, especially the lower classes, like shit. Pardon the language, but by no means does he treat anyone like trash or rubbish, he treats them like shit, no other word for it. And yet, he is always proved right. Even when he has to elicit court testimony the way he likes it instead of the absolute truth, he is still right. March Middleton is smart and experienced, but ruinously naive. She is a feminist (and so naturally Grice treats her like XXL shit), very stubborn and independent, but she never does more than banter and rebuke, why doesn't she actually stand up for herself? For example, she hires Grice to investigate a murder, only to have him railroad the suspect he has picked. Later evidence reveals that he is almost certainly wrong. All March does is sulk, why doesn't she hire a lawyer. Well, probably because that would derail the story, which ultimately ends with Grice being right. Maybe this book was meant to be a satire of the clinical and arrogant detective protagonist. Except, while there is some fun dialogue, it's not a fun book. It is full of gruesome descriptions of Victorian era slums. In fact, every poor person encountered is despicable and grotesque. I get it, it was a terrible time to be poor - could we see somebody in the slums with a few redeeming qualities? It's like reading a Victorian mystery by Ayn Rand. Ultimately, while the details are convoluted, the actual murderer is very obvious. But the baffling details are heaped on top of the main murder to keep things annoyingly convoluted. Also, after the murder is done, the murderer is able to convince her lover (an otherwise honest man, with a fear of blood) to go murder somebody else. As Grice explains, a person in total shock can easily be convinced to do something out of character. What?? What ass did you pull that out of? I thought Sidney Grice being proved always right was the low point, but the ending gets even worse. The murderer escapes from the detectives and flees to Australia. But, no worries, she dies when the ship she's on sinks. What exactly was the point of that? Did the author want to show, one last time, how clever the killer was, but didn't like to have the book end with her getting away with it? So... justice is served? This is followed by more details on what an awful person the murderer was - details that serve no purpose at all - and information on other murders she committed, that I have no idea how she could have possibly gotten away with. But, hey, Grice must be proved right. I like the writing, and wanted to like March, but in every other way this is an ugly book full of convoluted details that add up to saying not much, except... I don't know? The writer hates poor people? It's funny when obnoxious and irredeemable detectives are always right?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Brilliant Debut Novel Welcome to a new Victorian detective duo in the famous London detective Sidney Grice ably assisted by his ward March Middleton. This is a wonderful debut historical crime novel written by M.R.C. Kasasian who has good eye for correct historical detail an easy reading style with a use of language that gives off perfect imagery of the scenes that they confront. This is a cleverly written crime novel with all the twists and turns you come to expect set at a pace which makes rea Brilliant Debut Novel Welcome to a new Victorian detective duo in the famous London detective Sidney Grice ably assisted by his ward March Middleton. This is a wonderful debut historical crime novel written by M.R.C. Kasasian who has good eye for correct historical detail an easy reading style with a use of language that gives off perfect imagery of the scenes that they confront. This is a cleverly written crime novel with all the twists and turns you come to expect set at a pace which makes reading this book a complete pleasure. This looks like it is going to be the first in a series of “The Gower Street Detective” and I look forward to the next instalment. Sidney Grice is famous throughout England as the best personal detective that there is, who is a rabid tea drinker, without milk, very fussy extremely abrupt and the biggest crime of all a vegetarian! He has a great success rate works only for the money, has an encyclopaedic knowledge of crimes that have been committed and solved, interested in forensics and an inveterate inventor. Sidney Grice and March Middleton try to find the killer of Sarah Ashby and when her husband is convicted and hung for the crime, March thinks him innocent, whereas Sidney believes the right man has been put to death. From this start we delve in to the seedier side of London life back and forth to the East End and the docks. Grice wants to prove to March that the Ashby was guilty of a crime and at the same time uncovers more dead bodies, the red herrings and the eventually the killer. This is a wonderfully easy and enjoyable book to read for lovers of crime and historical crime fiction. Please welcome Sidney Grice!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Susan in NC

    I really enjoyed this fresh, fast-moving and darkly funny introduction to personal detective Sidney Grice, his ward March Middleton and Inspector Pound. The author does a good job of describing the filthy, dangerous East End of London in this homage to Sherlock Holmes, and Grice is enjoyably prickly, greedy, brilliant and rude - a fascinating character! I liked March even more; she is smart, tough, strong and very likeable and I look forward to getting to know her better. March has obviously lov I really enjoyed this fresh, fast-moving and darkly funny introduction to personal detective Sidney Grice, his ward March Middleton and Inspector Pound. The author does a good job of describing the filthy, dangerous East End of London in this homage to Sherlock Holmes, and Grice is enjoyably prickly, greedy, brilliant and rude - a fascinating character! I liked March even more; she is smart, tough, strong and very likeable and I look forward to getting to know her better. March has obviously loved deeply and lost so much, I hope Kasasian plans to give us much more background in future books; and I hope other characters can stop commenting to her face how plain she is - I couldn't help thinking that was uncommonly rude for extremely uptight and manners-obsessed Victorian London! Inspector Pound is fleshed out as more intelligent and worthy than the usual Scotland Yard hack trotted out to act as a clumsy foil for the brilliant private detective; here and hopefully in future books he contributes intelligently to the investigations and the three could be a formidable crime-fighting team! The only slight fault, and it seemed much less noticeable in the last half of the book, was an almost farcical air to the black humor and Grice's character in particular; there were running gags about his tea obsession and glass eye, for instance, that seemed out of place as the mystery deepened. The mystery itself, involving several brutal and bloody stabbing murders, was very well done and I would definitely seek out future books in this series and recommend it to historical mystery buffs.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    I love a good murder mystery. Detective stories, thrillers, you name it, and was quite excited to be given a copy of this book to read. Detective story set in Victorian London= SCORE! As many have noted Sidney Grice has some striking similarities to one Sherlock Holmes (both in book form and tv series form), but lacks some of the charm that redeems Holmes and makes him likeable to the reader. Sidney is... well... let's just say I am surprised he still has his other eye. While his character defin I love a good murder mystery. Detective stories, thrillers, you name it, and was quite excited to be given a copy of this book to read. Detective story set in Victorian London= SCORE! As many have noted Sidney Grice has some striking similarities to one Sherlock Holmes (both in book form and tv series form), but lacks some of the charm that redeems Holmes and makes him likeable to the reader. Sidney is... well... let's just say I am surprised he still has his other eye. While his character definitely stands out from the rest of the cast in the book, he felt too much like a copy of Holmes, and not nearly enough differences to really feel like he was his own separate character. March Middleton poses a nice contrast to Sidney and is one of many stand out characters in this cast. The rest of the cast has been wonderfully developed (both good and bad qualities) and give you a true sense of who they are in the environment. The mystery solving the murder was quite interesting and I liked how it was developed out. The ending seemed to be full of twists and turns and just when you think you may have it all figured out, it manages once more to surprise you. The backdrop of Victorian London was wonderful and the author did an amazing job casting a feel of how things were, and how things were accomplished back then. While, I do understand that the era lends itself to a differing view of women, I felt like the point was driven much too hard throughout the story. We get it... men thought women were inferior, stupid, and weak, we don’t need it driven home every time March opens her mouth to say something or to do something. It seemed a little overdone, with pointing it out every time, especially the men she was around frequently. At some point they would have more or less just ignored her remarks, talked over her, or interrupted her. It seemed like beating a dead horse versus adding anything at that point. This is a good solid read and worth the adventure. I look forward to reading more in this series and seeing how the relationship between the two (Middleton and Grice) progresses and changes. Both are quite clever and seem to never fully reveal their hands. *I recieved a copy of this book through netgalley for an honest review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    The Mangle Street Murders introduces us to some fantastic character's I am looking forward to following in this ongoing new series. The main characters of the book are March Middleton; Sidney Grice; Inspector Pound and Harriet Fitzpatrick (who I am crossing my fingers will play a bigger role in future books). Though the book can be seen as partly a parody of Sherlock Holmes (Conan Doyle has a brief appearance), it is also a unique story with original characters. In the first third and then again The Mangle Street Murders introduces us to some fantastic character's I am looking forward to following in this ongoing new series. The main characters of the book are March Middleton; Sidney Grice; Inspector Pound and Harriet Fitzpatrick (who I am crossing my fingers will play a bigger role in future books). Though the book can be seen as partly a parody of Sherlock Holmes (Conan Doyle has a brief appearance), it is also a unique story with original characters. In the first third and then again in the last third of the book there were some laugh out loud moment's based on very snappy dialogue. The middle section of the book concentrated on a trial and took a more serious tone and seemed that March Middleton took very much a back seat to the story. The book was at its best when March was in the scene. The Mangle Street Murders is an easy to read mystery that is well worth it even though you may figure things out. The chemistry of the characters was near perfect. I even love Molly, Brice's maid. The scenery of London in the late 1800's was made easy to envision. I highly recommend this book and I am thrilled that more will be on the way. I can't wait to see how the author develops relationships and pulls out even more back story that wasn't comprehensive in this book. Very satisfying and no cliff hanging ending.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tim Hicks

    It's difficult to write a Holmesian parody that also stands as a proper whodunit. This is moderately successful at that. If the setup had been less close to the Holmes one, the parody fails. But Kasasian has made plenty of changes. Some are small: Holmes is rude to most people, Grice to everyone; Watson is dim where Middleton is bright, but both are steady; Pound isn't Lestrade, more like a character from several other police stories I've read recently -- and he isn't dim, but is limited by the It's difficult to write a Holmesian parody that also stands as a proper whodunit. This is moderately successful at that. If the setup had been less close to the Holmes one, the parody fails. But Kasasian has made plenty of changes. Some are small: Holmes is rude to most people, Grice to everyone; Watson is dim where Middleton is bright, but both are steady; Pound isn't Lestrade, more like a character from several other police stories I've read recently -- and he isn't dim, but is limited by the assumptions of the time. Middleton's a character to go forward with. P: This isn't for a mere girl. M: I'm a girl, but no one ever called me "mere". Let's go. I liked the probably-all-too-true attitude of "Innocent? What does that matter? We've got a crime and 'ere's someone we can 'ang for it, wot's the problem?" The wretchedness of the lower classes is well displayed, in a way that authors of earlier eras were expected to avoid. The plot wasn't brilliant but it served. There were plenty of hints that several people weren't as advertised, but the hints were only enough to make the reader observant and skeptical. I'll read #2.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Marguerite Kaye

    Another of those books that I liked but didn't love. I liked the premise. I liked March, the female assistant. But I really didn't like Sydney Grice, which I think is the main reason the book didn't work for me. Like a few others, I found him irritating. I thought his 'tic' of playing with his glass eye plain annoying, and overall, to be honest, he felt like far too much like a pastiche of a character than original or even a tribute to Sherlock Holmes. Pompous, didactic, bigoted and misogynistic Another of those books that I liked but didn't love. I liked the premise. I liked March, the female assistant. But I really didn't like Sydney Grice, which I think is the main reason the book didn't work for me. Like a few others, I found him irritating. I thought his 'tic' of playing with his glass eye plain annoying, and overall, to be honest, he felt like far too much like a pastiche of a character than original or even a tribute to Sherlock Holmes. Pompous, didactic, bigoted and misogynistic, I'm sure all of which was attended, he had no redeeming features, and rather than amuse me (which again I'm sure was what was intended), he just made me grit my teeth and wish he'd leave the page. On saying that though, the plot was good, the ambiance really good. The humour didn't always come off, but it was there, and it's something really lacking in many period books, so I appreciated the attempt. And it did keep me turning the pages too. Would I read another in the Gower Street Detective series? No, probably not.

  22. 5 out of 5

    MTK

    A solid historical mystery, basically destroyed by the botched characterization. I understand that the intention was to create a dark satire of fictional detectives, but the one who stars in this book is so unlikable and devoid of any positive attribute that he becomes a caricature of a monster. As for the main protagonist, if the point was to portray her as a self-possessed Victorian woman with a mind of her own, the author would have done better to give her a modicum of intelligence, possibly A solid historical mystery, basically destroyed by the botched characterization. I understand that the intention was to create a dark satire of fictional detectives, but the one who stars in this book is so unlikable and devoid of any positive attribute that he becomes a caricature of a monster. As for the main protagonist, if the point was to portray her as a self-possessed Victorian woman with a mind of her own, the author would have done better to give her a modicum of intelligence, possibly by not having her believe in the innocence of an accused murderer because "he has kind eyes". Also, male attitudes toward women in that era were bad enough without trying to make them comically nasty, and class was a huge deal back then: a village constable would not say to an upper-class young lady's face that she is ugly.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Phyllis

    I rather enjoyed this little murder mystery with all its plot twists and its humor. The references to other mysteries were usually amusing, but sometimes very heavy handed. The reason I gove it three stars instead of four: 1. The occasional heavy hand just mentioned. Most mystery readers are not unacquainted with other famous mystery series. 2. The unresolved flashbacks into March's love. I do not care to be led by the hand to read another in a series; I will willingly do so, but I don't appreci I rather enjoyed this little murder mystery with all its plot twists and its humor. The references to other mysteries were usually amusing, but sometimes very heavy handed. The reason I gove it three stars instead of four: 1. The occasional heavy hand just mentioned. Most mystery readers are not unacquainted with other famous mystery series. 2. The unresolved flashbacks into March's love. I do not care to be led by the hand to read another in a series; I will willingly do so, but I don't appreciate being shoved/ led/ guided by being left 'hanging' All in all a very fast read, and overall enjoyable.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Michael Gallagher

    It’s the London of 1882. When Mrs Dillinger approaches Mr Sidney Grice—Britain’s foremost personal detective—with a plea that he exonerate her son-in-law, an ironmonger accused of murdering her daughter, he refuses outright. It is only when Miss March Middleton—his new ward who has only recently arrived in the metropolis—agrees to pay for his services that he accepts…with disastrous results for everyone concerned. This wonderful, fast-paced Penny Dreadful is the first in a deservedly well-loved s It’s the London of 1882. When Mrs Dillinger approaches Mr Sidney Grice—Britain’s foremost personal detective—with a plea that he exonerate her son-in-law, an ironmonger accused of murdering her daughter, he refuses outright. It is only when Miss March Middleton—his new ward who has only recently arrived in the metropolis—agrees to pay for his services that he accepts…with disastrous results for everyone concerned. This wonderful, fast-paced Penny Dreadful is the first in a deservedly well-loved series, one that I came to when by chance I happened to pick up one of the later books, and it was a pleasure to meet all the regular characters again, this time on their very first outing. So what can you expect? Well, there are a number of grisly murders, with the murder scenes described in gory, vivid detail. There’s a generous dollop of humour, most of it black. There’s a fair amount of indignation at the position of women in Victorian society. There are plenty of twists. And there is an excellent narrative voice in the form of March Middleton, a very modern young woman, who provides the perfect counterfoil to her cantankerous guardian. I can honestly say it was right up my street.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Largely forgettable send up of Holmes-type detectives, with a pretty unlikeable sleuth. The narrator, March, was smart and her back story interesting, but most of the mystery was flat and just not that great. Would be fine as an “airport read” or in my case, a “visiting the in-laws” read. :)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Katy Noyes

    Amusing relationship between a 'Holmes and Watson', feminist angle in an intriguing did-he-didn't he Victorian murder. 4.5 stars A London detective, Sidney Grice, is the guardian who 'invites' his orphaned charge, March Middleton to live with him. The confident, smart, pre-suffrage March refuses to allow Grice to sideline her and treat her as an inferior, managing to force him to take a case reluctantly - a young wife murdered brutally, apparently by her husband, the only real suspect. March pays Amusing relationship between a 'Holmes and Watson', feminist angle in an intriguing did-he-didn't he Victorian murder. 4.5 stars A London detective, Sidney Grice, is the guardian who 'invites' his orphaned charge, March Middleton to live with him. The confident, smart, pre-suffrage March refuses to allow Grice to sideline her and treat her as an inferior, managing to force him to take a case reluctantly - a young wife murdered brutally, apparently by her husband, the only real suspect. March pays him to take the husband's case, after his mother-in-law insists upon his innocence. She then accompanies him on his investigations around a very grimy city, showing us life at the time, and standing up to Grice as he tries to disprove his own client's innocence. It's an interesting case in itself, and though March sometimes becomes a means of exposition, and a mouthpiece for Grice's opinions, she is also a strong model and a smart cookie, holding her own against the world-weary and snooty opinions of her guardian. He's a rather unique prospect, not a Sam Spade, a Sherlock , he's rather hard-hearted and hard to like, though he is a professional. The case is shocking at times; it isn't a 'last-minute save' and happy-ever-after, it's a real, grown-up situation that is quite dark, violent and also quite twisty. Grice is the sort of man you enjoy loathing, he's so sure of his judgement, and even if he IS right, you really don't want him to be, you want March to prove him wrong. March is a strong character and I loved watching her stand up to Grice, and seeing her own thoughts on the investigation. The case itself turns into a great plot, March makes a great protagonist to explore London and gives us a little-seen viewpoint of a crime with - the woman. It works well with March as the lead. I'd read more of March and Grice and their antagonistic relationship through other cases, really enjoyed the pre-Holmes (whose author even gets a cameo) detective and seeing how his work can affect a whole city and have repercussions in a time when news and opinions spread verbally just as fast as it can in a world of technology.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Eleanor Jones

    Wow. This is the slowest book I've read in years. To clarify, the book isn't slow. I just read it excruciatingly slowly so as not to miss anything, because the writing is so full of detail, and the main character's observations--often added right into the middle of the dialogue--should absolutely not be missed. Not a single one. So many gems! Sometimes funny, often poignant, each one adding to the atmosphere of the story. On the one hand, earthy, in-your-face, and often distressing slices of Vic Wow. This is the slowest book I've read in years. To clarify, the book isn't slow. I just read it excruciatingly slowly so as not to miss anything, because the writing is so full of detail, and the main character's observations--often added right into the middle of the dialogue--should absolutely not be missed. Not a single one. So many gems! Sometimes funny, often poignant, each one adding to the atmosphere of the story. On the one hand, earthy, in-your-face, and often distressing slices of Victorian London. On the other hand, often touching observations by the main character, March, who is one tough and unusual cookie but with a tender and caring side that can't be ignored--and one which is apt to get her in trouble from time to time. And then there's Sidney Grice. I love him and hate him in turns. He's uncomfortable and abrupt, callous and clever, with only the occasional kindness that keeps him from being absolutely a monster. As a lead character and detective, he's top notch. In lighter moments, I enjoyed his constant comparisons between everything in his turf of London versus everything country, from where March hails. The author paints such strong characters. I felt as if I knew each one, from the starving match girl to the spoilt young wife and the shopkeeper husband in the hot seat. And March herself is a treat to get to know. I have a strong feeling there's much more to learn about both her and Sidney, and I look forward to all of it. And Inspector Pound? More, please. Nothing subtle here--or is there? This book is comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time. The writing is tight and all over the place at the same time. To call it unusual is an understatement. It's an original and it's thought-provoking as well as entertaining. All I can do is urge you to read it yourself and see if your reaction isn't the same as mine, which was to pick up the next book in the series and start it, ever so slowly, right away. Quite simply, I loved it. And incidentally, I think it would make a great movie.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    Phew! Just finished this wonderful historical murder mystery provided by the publisher through netgalley, and I have to say how much I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. There are some great historical murder mysteries out there now, with engaging, smart protagonist detectives and intricate plots, and this is right up there with the best. It is gory in places, terribly sad in others and shot through with the wickedest humor, but my favorite thing is the main characters. The narrator, Mr. Grise and ev Phew! Just finished this wonderful historical murder mystery provided by the publisher through netgalley, and I have to say how much I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. There are some great historical murder mysteries out there now, with engaging, smart protagonist detectives and intricate plots, and this is right up there with the best. It is gory in places, terribly sad in others and shot through with the wickedest humor, but my favorite thing is the main characters. The narrator, Mr. Grise and even Inspector Pound are interesting individuals, with secrets, serious personality flaws and tension. Written in first-person POV, we get to hear exactly what the narrator, March, thinks of her guardian, but we never really understand what he thinks of her. Does he despise her? Does he remotely care about her? I don't honestly know for sure, and while one half of me desperately wants to know (and will keep me reading on with these books), the other half doesn't want the mystique to disappear. The writing is witty and light on the whole (the allusions to Sherlock Holmes and future events which are yet to occur are wonderfully cheeky), but we get glimpses of real suffering and pain, both in the characters and the lives of the poor in late Victorian London, which is beautifully woven into the threads of the story. The descriptions are subtly atmospheric covering the whole story in a sheen of darkness and grime. The murder mystery itself is complex. It's not clear who did it, or who played what part in the whole series of events, but, don't worry, all is revealed! 5 stars. I loved it, and can't wait for the next one to come out The Curse Of The House Of Foskett

  29. 5 out of 5

    colleen the convivial curmudgeon

    A sort of homage to the Holmes stories, which purports to be the inspiration thereof. I did appreciate the shout out to Poe's Dupin stories - themselves a predecessor of Holmes - but I was more than a bit agitated that the book misspells the man's name. (It's Edgar Allan Poe, not Allen. You'd think you'd make sure you get the spelling right for something like this.) Anyway - We have Grice, the personal detective, doing the Holmes schtick - but it's all brusque rudeness and none of the charm. Then A sort of homage to the Holmes stories, which purports to be the inspiration thereof. I did appreciate the shout out to Poe's Dupin stories - themselves a predecessor of Holmes - but I was more than a bit agitated that the book misspells the man's name. (It's Edgar Allan Poe, not Allen. You'd think you'd make sure you get the spelling right for something like this.) Anyway - We have Grice, the personal detective, doing the Holmes schtick - but it's all brusque rudeness and none of the charm. Then we have March, the female Watson, with medical knowledge gleaned from helping her father on the battle field, however likely that is, and I guess she sort of balances out Grice's meanness by being a bit overly soft-hearted and naive. I do like anachronistically spunky girls, though, so I dug her, for the most part, even if she's a bit forcefully spunky at times. Lastly Pound, the Lestrade stand-in, though given to be a bit more competent than his counterpart. Pound was an interesting one - at times sort of progressive, and then profoundly not. Anyway - I never did grow to like Grice, by any means, but I did find him less grating by the end, and he did have his moments. Mostly, though, I liked the case. It's hard to discuss it in any detail, though, without getting into spoiler territory. I will say I kept wishing for Grice to get some things wrong, because he was so insufferably smug, but, conversely, I can see how you wouldn't want your protagonist to be proven faulty in his first case. (Well, the first one we see, anyway.) I liked the twists and turns and reveals well enough to not let the characterizations bother me too much, though. It ends up being a quick, interesting, albeit provoking read, and I'm definitely on board to continue with the series.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    What a lovely read. The main characters are really well defined and wear their personalities well - the self-opinionated, gruff Sidney Grice whose main concerns are money and his reputation as a personal(not private) detective, and his ward March Middleton - young, naive and brought up in the colonies where she helped her military doctor father treat wounded soldiers. There is a background theme of a relationship in March's past which we are led to assume ended in the death of her suitor.. but th What a lovely read. The main characters are really well defined and wear their personalities well - the self-opinionated, gruff Sidney Grice whose main concerns are money and his reputation as a personal(not private) detective, and his ward March Middleton - young, naive and brought up in the colonies where she helped her military doctor father treat wounded soldiers. There is a background theme of a relationship in March's past which we are led to assume ended in the death of her suitor.. but the door is left open for further revelations as this is not confirmed. The story was fast paced - a woman who wants to prove her son-in-law innocent of murdering his wife. Having been found guilty and hung half way through the book March tries to prove his innocence while Sidney is determined to prove his guilt without doubt. They interact well together, consistently trying to score points off each and building an interesting relationship. There is of course the police presence in Inspector Pound, and the balance in relationships is provided by Harriet Fitzgerald who introduces March to a Ladies Club – a balance to the misogynist tendencies- although the ladies feel the need to use nicknames rather than their true identities. This provided a crucial link in the storyline and has the potential to do so again in the future. I thoroughly enjoyed this book – the language and descriptions were rich and provided good insight into the life led by both the characters and the poor of the time. A mixture of a good plot, a dash of humour and well developing characters made this a great read and I look forward with anticipation to further titles in the series.

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