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Monday, February 23, 2009

The Hellfire Conspiracy

Thomas, Will. The Hellfire Conspiracy.

This is the 4th in the series of Private Inquiry Agent Cyrus Barker and his assistant Thomas Llewelyn. Set in London in 1885, Barker's latest client is frantic about the disappearance of his daughter. The topic of white slavery of young women for purposes of prostitution was a hot one in Victorian London, and Devere fears that white slavers are responsible .

Barker, however, isn't sure the disappearance of young Gwendolyn DeVere is related to white slavery and soon discovers that other young girls have disappeared with deadly results. Barker and Llewelyn suspect that the abuse and murders are the work of a serial killer and, indeed, soon receive a letter from the murderer taunting them.

The novel includes several real issues from the era and several real people. The real people include William Stead, a journalist who campaigned against the practice of selling young women into prostitution and to raise the age of consent from 13 to 16. The inclusion of William T. Stead works, but the inclusion of Beatrix Potter doesn't.

The characters are interesting, but not fully rounded. The strength (for me) is the ambiance, history, and culture of Victorian London. Overall, an enjoyable mystery.

Fiction. Mystery. 2007. 311 pages.


  1. I like this series but I think aside from the time and setting, I like how Barker and Llewellyn interact. I think as the series is progressing they are becoming more than mentor/mentee and real partners in solving crime.

    Anyway, I agree I didn't particularly care for the Beatrix Potter inclusion. I have the next book in the series and am curious if he's also going to feature another person from real life. I sort of don't like that too much in my mysteries but we'll see what happens...

  2. Beatrix Potter? That's surprising.

  3. bookfool - Beatrix didn't quite fit. :\

  4. iliana - Thomas seems to be revealing things slowly. Love all the London detail!

  5. I'm glad you put this series on my radar. I love Victorian mysteries. I don't read too many books written by men though. Have you read the whole series? I'll see if I can get book 1.

  6. Kay - No, I'm going to check on the first books in the series when I go back to the library. Iliana has read the first 3 in the series, though.