The Lost Boys (Esther and Jack Enright #8), by David Field

Nine stars

David Field offers up a final novel about the criminal element of Victorian England with Esther and Jack Enright front and centre. After both receiving promotions within Scotland Yard, Jack Enright and his uncle, Percy, are called upon to help with another significant case. Percy is told of two missing boys from a local boarding school, both of whom disappeared after catching coaches at the end of the day. These boys are related to two prominent British businessmen with ties to South Africa. At a time when the Boer War is still simmering, all eyes turn to the potential of German involvement. Approaching his nephew, Percy pleads for assistance, particularly since one of the boys had been booked on a ship sailing for the African continent. Jack agrees, but is busy with his own investigations, now working at one of the large English ports, where shipments have been going missing. When Percy seeks to press for more information at the school, he discovers that there is more to the coach story than meets the eye. Could the Matron be sitting on information key to the investigation that she’s refusing to share? Enter, Esther Enright, whose past undercover work helped solve a few important cases. Esther enters the fray and discovers a key piece of information, while Jack learns something from a sailor himself. Piecing it all together may help discover what’s happened to the boys, but who is behind it all? Therein lies the key in this final Enright mystery. Field puts together another great story, sure to keep the reader enthralled until the last page. Fans of the series will likely enjoy this last novel, as might those who love Victorian mysteries.

David Field has a writing style not only easy to comprehend, but provides the reader with historical context during the Victorian era. Settings and political events come to life throughout this well-paced series, which never falls flat. Field uses the story’s settings effectively, shifting from the port to school grounds, both key to the larger plot. Jack and Esther remain strong characters, though Field injects some new developments to create some disarray and leaves them to make some harrowing decisions about themselves and their future together. Their banter and ability to work together have been central to the entire series, something Field does not forget to include. Percy Enright plays another protagonist role, helping to push the story along, and has elevated himself from the other characters. All those who play a smaller role do well to fit into the narrative, helping to enrich the criminal investigation. Field keeps the story fairly straightforward, though does not dilute or oversimplify things for the reader. Rather, he effectively educates the reader while exploring some of the regional issues that plagued the country just before the turn of the century. These short reads can be digested in a single day without feeling cheated. One can only hope that Field’s collection of ideas does not dry up anytime soon, even if he is moving on to new and exciting ventures.

Kudos, Mr. Field, for a great end to this series. I cannot wait for your next series, which I have heard will take readers centuries into the past!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: