The Butchered Man
1840, Victoria sits on the throne having married her beloved Albert; The Chimney Sweeps Act ensures nobody under the age of 21 will be employed as a sweep; the first railway timetable is produced; and we find ourselves in the cathedral city of Northminster where a gruesome discovery of a corpse has been made. Major Giles Vernon and Mr Felix Carswell are charged with the task of finding who the victim is and who murdered him.
Harriet Smart has us in the palm of her hand from the get go. There are politics at play that unravel as we read along, constantly tempting us to read that one more chapter before sleep. The duo of Vernon and Carswell are as solidly established as any detective pair. Holmes and Watson would happily work alongside them and, indeed in places, you can’t help but feel that Sherlock should move out, there’s a new kid in town.
Some murder mysteries are unnecessarily convoluted, introducing characters at the last minute that suddenly were key players all along. As a reader, it can get tiresome trying to keep hold of the threads between each person; not so with The Butchered Man. While this is a complex book, make no mistake, Smart expertly weaves the tapestry leaving us in no doubt who’s who and why they’re there.
The Butchered Man has a few typo errors, and I noticed several repeated words—nothing major, but another professional copy edit might be of benefit to this otherwise excellent read.