Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Mangle Street Murders by Martin Kasasian

In The Mangle Street Murders we are introduced to London's premiere private detective duo; Sidney Grice, a fussy, intelligent tea enthusiast, and his ward, precocious and witty March Middleton. After her father's untimely death, March travels to the country to reside with her godfather, Sidney Grice, who she has not spoken to in many years. March is just getting settled into her new home with Sidney on Gower Street when an agitated woman arrives on their doorstep with disturbing news. Her daughter, wealthy newlywed Sarah Ashby, has been brutally murdered and the police have arrested the husband.  Sarah's mother is convinced her son in law is innocent and pleads with Sidney to take the case. Sidney, who values money second only to a good cup of tea, hesitates to accept when it becomes clear she has little money with which to pay his going rate.  Luckily the more compassionate March intercedes on her behalf, agreeing to pay Sidney's rate but only if he includes her in the investigation. Thus the partnership is formed and after a quick spot of tea the duo head off to solve their first case together.

Inspector Pound  is on hand to assist with the investigation and after a quick inspection of the crime scene and the scarce trail of clues, everyone quickly reaches a conclusion on the culprit behind this heinous crime. Everyone that is except March. March steadfastly believes there is more to this mystery lying just beneath the surface. Could it be true?  Did the famous Sidney Grice finally reach an erroneous conclusion?

At first glance there are many striking similarities between The Mangle Street Murders and the beloved Sherlock Holmes mysteries.  An ornery famous detective scooping up criminals on the streets of Victorian England?  A sassy sidekick who doubles as a narrator?  A well meaning, yet obtuse Inspector? However as the story progresses the main characters take on a life of their own and the story delves down a much quirkier path. March's narration adds an extra dose of enjoyment, providing insight into March's humorous take on her partner's pompous antics. Sidney and March are perfectly balanced counterparts and readers will enjoy the back and forth banter that plays out between the pages.

For further historical mysteries set in Victorian London, readers should check out The Murder Squad series by Alex Grecian and Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell. 

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