Heloise Chancery is an exotic Victorian sleuth, a cat walk Sherlock with a wardrobe to die for and not a deerstalker to cry over.
She has a charisma that adds colour to a London landscape shrouded in grey, a celebrity in an era when the paparazzi hounded their prey in a horse and carriage. With her coterie of male admirers she would have gone viral in today’s social media gold rush. but when the Inspector comes calling she leaves the trappings of superficiality behind and enters a murderous cauldron that appears to have its origins in distant Sarawak, at a time when colonial supremacy was starting to be challenged by its reluctant subjects.
The author captures an industrialised England where smoke and damp seep through the pores of the narrative emitting a miasma of cold tension which contrasts starkly with the fear and sweat of a distant land threatening to wilt under the glare of an unrelenting sun.
The plot at times appears to emulate the dark alleys and unexpected dead-ends of the capital’s streets but Heloise displays an unerring sense of direction as she navigates her way through a disparate set of clues to an ultimately bloody denouement. The plot moves along at a good pace and is interwoven with complementary story lines enhanced by a pot pourri of characters that would put Agatha Christie to shame.
Heloise Chancery has re-invented herself but is comfortable with her past unlike the main suspects whose present lives appear to be regressing into their previous selves as painful truths materialise like recurring nightmares. Fortunately her path from poverty to London society has taught her all she needs to know about the vagaries of man and gives her the perfect blend of intuition and pragmatism to help unravel this necessary murder.