Some Danger Involved
This engaging mystery takes place in Victorian London, and marks the debut of Cyrus Barker, inquiry agent, and his new apprentice, Thomas Llewelyn. Thomas narrates, beginning with the rather extraordinary application process for the position. The advertisement, which notes that typing and shorthand are required, rather forthrightly states, “Some danger involved in performance of duties.” Since Thomas’s predecessor was killed in the line of duty, this is a very real possibility. Barker and Llewelyn’s case involves the murder and crucifixion of a young Jewish scholar in London’s East End. The Jewish community is fearful that an uprising against the Jews may be imminent, due to simmering resentment at the large number of recent Jewish immigrants.
The author has given an excellent feel for the time and the place—historical details abound. The glimpse into Jewish life at the time is most fascinating. Barker and Llewelyn’s relationship may have the feel of Holmes and Watson, or even Bruce Alexander’s Sir John Fielding and his young assistant Jeremy, but Thomas’s characters have very distinct personalities. Llewelyn is an engaging narrator, and piques our curiosity from the very start, when we learn that he has studied at Oxford and spent time at Oxford prison, an unusual combination. This reader will be eagerly awaiting the next adventure of these intrepid inquiry agents!