Children of the Tide
Book description: London: the early 1840s. The birth of the young Queen Victoria's first child is taken as an auspicious sign for all. But on a cold March night, a spree of dark crimes in shadowy workhouses shocks the city.
When Inspector Owen Endersby, of the recently formed London Detective Police, learns that the string of identical murders and abductions have all taken place under similar circumstances, he fears a monster is prowling the city. How long until the murderer strikes again? Is this the work of a diabolical killer, or a madman with confused motives? Facts are scarce. Endersby and his sergeant, Thomas Caldwell, must start an investigation based on the fitful testimonies of terrified girls and one peculiar clue: a piece of curtain lace found in the throats of the victims.
Inspector Endersby is middle-aged and happily married. No tortured inspector with tragic past or angst in Endersby. It is an interesting departure from the common detective trope to have a rotund protagonist (with gout, no less) who simply attempts to do his job to the best of his ability, to be conscientious, to use logic, and to try to withhold judgement until the facts are in.
There have, of course, been other fat, middle-aged detectives including Nero Wolfe and Andy Dalziel (Reginald Hill's Dalziel and Pascoe police procedurals are my all-time favorites), but you have to admit that they are rather a rare breed.
At any rate, Inspector Endersby and Sergeant Caldwell are likable, if thin, characters, and they do their best to employ the new methods of policing endorsed by the founder of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Robert Peel.
I found two things annoying: 1) the overabundance and artificial feel of the quotes (and you know how much I love finding Shakespeare quotes). The use of the quotes just didn't fit naturally for some reason; they felt forced. 2) The use of the term "demon familiar" to describe Endersby's tendency to anger and violence that he had to struggle to control. The term was used so frequently that I gritted my teeth each time I read it.
The mystery itself was a bit convoluted and had a few red herrings.
Read in September; blog post scheduled for Feb. 9, 2015.
Historical Mystery/Police Procedural. Feb. 28, 2015. Print length: 296 pages.