The first in a charming, evocative, and sharply plotted Victorian crime series starring a detective duo to rival Holmes and Watson.
After her father dies, March Middleton has to move to London to live with her guardian, Sidney Grice, the country's most famous private detective. It is 1882, and London is at its murkiest yet most vibrant, wealthiest yet most poverty-stricken. No sooner does March arrive than a case presents itself: A young woman has been brutally murdered, and her husband is the only suspect. The victim's mother is convinced of her son-in-law's innocence, and March is so touched by her pleas she offers to cover Sidney's fee herself.
The investigation leads the pair to the darkest alleys of the East End, and every twist leads Sidney Grice to think his client is guilty. But March is convinced he is innocent. Around them London reeks with the stench of poverty and gossip, the case threatens to boil over into civil unrest, and Sidney Grice finds his reputation is not the only thing in mortal danger.
©2013 M. R. C. Kasasian (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
2004 Audible listener
March Middleton makes this book. She is intelligent and naive at the same time. The relationship with her guardian makes this a duo you want to hear more from.
That even the best intentions are not a substitute for experience or a cunning understanding of character of 19th century Londoners.
This is my first time listening to Lindy Nettleton. Now, I will make it a point to look for more books narrated by Lindy.
There are moments when you find you are smiling to yourself because you can relate to the situation or the emotion March is experiencing.
Love books! Classics and lighter fiction, mysteries (not too violent please :-). And selective non-fiction--whatever takes my fancy.
M. R. C. Kasasian has written a charming and mischievously witty mystery which takes place in 1882 England. Audible gives us the option to "view the series," but this is the only book that shows. There must be more somewhere, because, as fun as this book was--especially to listen to (kudos to the delightful reading of Lindy Nettleton!), it unfortunately ended with almost all of the major points cleared up, except one: who is the mystery person that March Middleton, the newly claimed ward of Sidney Brice--detective who is known by all the city, is writing to?
It opens with March Middleton leaving her home, after her father's death, and going to the home of Sidney Brice, a well-known (Sherlockian-style) detective to live as his ward. She finds him shockingly outrageous, overly dramatic, seldom patient with her, often rude to everyone, and yet, somehow, she forms an attachment to him. We find ourselves in yet again another Watson-Sherlock knock-off. This one most resembles Laurie King's Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series.
At first I wanted to yawn and just get through it, but then I realized it was growing on me. In King's series, Sherlock has formed a genuine attachment to the young Mary Russell, but in this one, although there are brief moments when Sidney Brice appears to have some personal care and concern for his new young ward, they are fewer and farther apart. Brice is similar to Holmes in that he has the incredible ability to see clues where others don't, which leads to solving crimes, but even as remote from emotions as we view Holmes, I would say that Brice is created to be a bit more blatantly narcissistic, and somehow it does not work quite as well. I was a tiny bit put off by his character, even while basically enjoying the book as a whole.
I felt it was a credit well-spent, but since the author left things unfinished with one character (minor to the reader I guess, but very important to March Middleton), the purpose of whose very existence is left somewhat unclear, it would seem that there must be another book in this series to pick up where this leaves off. But Audible does not seem to have it (perhaps will in the future). It will not hurt in listening to the story, since he is not central to the solving of the crime, but it just left me feeling a bit disappointed. Guess I just like things to be neatly tied up at the end :-)
Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot is vain, clever, and quirky, as is Kasasian's Sidney Grice. What makes Poirot work and Grice not is a set of redeeming qualities; Poirot keenly pursues justice and expresses compassion for others. Grice is merely annoying--greedy, self-serving, complacent, dishonest-- so much so that I found it difficult to get through the book. Worse, about two-thirds of the way through, the author seems to change his mind about Grice. In the course of any novel, a gruff character may be shown to be kind underneath, or a character the reader thought mistaken may be proved to be right; but these changes must be justified in terms of the plot. If the writer manipulates characters for the sake of plot instead of the other way around, it shows.
The inspector and other characters are one-dimensional. Narrator March Middleton is the most fully drawn and has some attractive qualities that will carry her through a series. She smokes and drinks at a ladies' club, for one thing. We are given to understand that she is grieving, but that part of her character is oddly disassociated from the rest. It's supposed to be the reason she drinks but doesn't affect any of her other actions or thoughts. She is sometimes intelligent but sometimes not.
All the men make misogynistic remarks typical of fictional portrayals of the era. March sometimes responds in an entertainingly clever but realistic fashion. The horrors of poverty are portrayed to a near caricatural extent, again for effect rather than to support plot or theme.
What about that plot? The book is very slow for the first two-thirds, which can be a good thing if you're listening while driving or performing other tasks that require attention. I'm not bothered by the improbabilities connected with the murders. By the time I get to the big reveal, I don't know that I care.
Readers may hope for improvement as the series goes on.
Yes I plan too because I really found it well written and performed. Interesting and sometimes humorous characters, as well as many twists and turns during the investigation. The attention to detail by the author is excellent, it can be quite morbid and graphic at times with a pinch of humor which I really enjoyed. It also brings to life the London of the time period it takes place in.
The "roving" eyeball!
This is the first performance I've listened to by Lindy Nettleton, and I would love to listen to more books narrated by her! Her performance was excellent.
The dead infant theme was poignant but gratuitous. I don't need that in my 'fun' reading.
It was fine.
Well, not really. I'm not terribly committed to any of the characters, except maybe the cop.
This book might be better read than listened to but I'm not sure it will make a difference.
I was confused to say the least by March Middleton, at once both a girl who had never been kissed and a woman who had been engaged to a soldier in India. It was as if she had a split personality but the reader never got to see where they overlapped. I was also perplexed by the side story involving a woman March meets on a train in the opening scene and the women's club March joins. The only point of the subplot seemed to be to emphasize that March was a modern woman who liked to smoke and drink. Yet for being so modern, she meekly stood by while all the male characters in the book, even some minor ones, told her how unattractive she was. Her lack of emotional response to such attacks was disturbing. I was not surprised to find out the author is a man-a man who doesn't appear to understand women. Maybe doesn't even like women much. All the female characters are flat. Actually, I think March will discover in a future volume that the main male character, Sidney Grice, is actually a cross dresser. The author has already thrown out a few hints.
I didn't like the narrator and doubt I would listen to other books she reads.
I like mysteries (particularly British ones, historical fiction and nonfiction, science fiction and fantasy.
March Middleton's father is dead leaving her penniless. Her guardian is the most famous consulting detective in England, Sidney Grice. Grice is remarkably eccentric with a passion for tea and being paid for his services. When he is presented with the mysterious death of a young wife, that it appears could have only been accomplished by her husband, no matter how piteously, the wife's mother presents the case that the husband was innocent, Grice is not going to take the case, until March herself agrees to pay him out of some shares that she inherited from her father.
Just when the reader thinks she knows where the story is going it seems a trope gets turned on its head. March has a fondness for gin and cigarettes that she has to keep from Grice whose indulgence is the genial beverage, tea. The author paints a fantastic, yet believable picture of London of the 1880's. Just when it seems there is going to be a solution to part of the mystery, the story takes a sharp turn down another dark alley.
The only problem I had was that it seemed the book was a bit unsatisfying with the information provided to explain exactly what was going on with March. There were flashbacks that were affecting but not really useful. Ah, maybe, everything will be made clear in the subsequent books.
First in the series and I'm looking forward to reading the second which is already out.
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