First and foremost, a large thank you to David Field and Sapere Books for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.
A continued exploration of Victorian England’s criminal underbelly through the eyes of David Field proves to be a wonderful escape for the curious reader. With Esther and Jack preparing to marry, there is much to do, including finding the perfect dress. In an attempt to counterbalance the drama of such an event, Esther finds herself offered a job working for the National Women’s Labour Alliance, a union hoping to bring support to women working across London. Still in its infancy, the Alliance hopes to be a driving force in changing work practices for the better and has a firecracker leading the charge. Meanwhile, Jack Enright has accepted a role as Detective Constable with Scotland Yard. His Uncle Percy, a long-time copper, has taken Jack under his wing and will show him the art of detecting. Their first case pertains to someone breaking into the homes of women and stealing their…unmentionables. With these thefts comes written demands that the women immediately distance themselves from the Alliance. While most events were undertaken when the women were away or sleeping, the culprit has become brazen and removed a few pairs from women while the knickers were still in place. Could this be a crime of a sexual nature and one of a sicko? Jack and Percy put their heads together and share what they know, bringing Esther into the conversation, only to see that she might have some insight. Working the case from two angles, Esther will try to sleuth out information from within the Alliance while Jack and Percy follow leads to nab the thief. Things take a significant turn when the thieving turns to murder, putting Esther in the middle of what could be an extremely dangerous assignment. As London looks to turn a page on its industrial history, a murderer lurks in the shadows, wanting to halt things before they get started. The wedding will have to take a backseat as long as there is a case to be solved, though nothing will keep these lovebirds from tying the proverbial knot. Another great mystery that reads so swiftly and with ease. Recommended for those who enjoy Victorian crime thrillers.
I was recently introduced to David Field and his work by an eager publisher. After devouring the first novel, I knew I would have to get my hands on the follow-up, which has proven to be just as entertaining. Field uses an intriguing setting, Victorian England, and some strong characters to propel this story into something both exciting and easy to enjoy. Esther Jacobs remains a strong protagonist as she uses her strong personality to enchant many of those she meets. Her role as a union member and clerk is not downplayed by Field whatsoever, but proves essential to the entire plot. She is both determined and willing to listen, which helps her sleuth undetected. Detective Constable Jack Enright’s passion for policing is apparent, which he has undertaken with gusto. Field paints his male protagonist as a dedicated copper and one who wants to rid the streets of this thief/killer, but also protect Esther. Jack and Esther complement one another so well, working the crime as effectively as their impending cohabitation. Field is able to develop this connection without making Enright appearing any less crime-focussed. The secondary characters again fit perfectly into this story, using their Cockney speech and wayward manner to take the reader inside the less refined parts of London while also allowing a sense of being in the middle of the action. The story itself flows well and keeps a decent pace as the chapters pass by quickly. With only a short time for Field to develop his narrative, there is little time for extemporaneous blather, but always a chance to inject some humour into happenings. The writing leaves the reader wanting to know more and pushing to find out who might be responsible for these dastardly crimes with female victims. Field has done a masterful job with these first two novels and I have a third awaiting my perusal. I can only hope that he keeps writing these sorts of mysteries for all to enjoy.
Kudos, Mr. Field, for this wonderful follow-up novel. I am eager to get my hands on more Esther and Jack stories and hope others will follow my lead.
A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons