Crooked in His Ways: A Lightner and Law Mystery

Written by S. M. Goodwin
Review by Peggy Kurkowski

Inspector Jasper Lightner and Detective Hieronymus Law are back for another round of intrigue, secrets, and murder most foul in pre-Civil War New York City. Goodwin’s stellar series debut, Absence of Mercy, introduced the unlikely detective duo of Lord Lightner, an English Crimean War veteran with a trauma-induced stammer, and his earthy, crime-solving American partner, Hy Law. Crooked in His Ways picks up right where the two sleuths left off and never slows down.

It is early July 1857, and Lord Jasper Lightner is recovering from the physical and emotional wounds of his first big case on the New York Metropolitan Police Force. But only a few days later, he and Hy Law are tasked with investigating the diabolical death of wealthy financier Albert Beauchamp. Disappearing before Christmas in 1856, Beauchamp has reappeared in New Orleans—dismembered and packed in a shipping crate full of salt. Among the dead man’s estate Lightner discovers a black book full of names and details of several important people who all have reason to kill the blackmailing Beauchamp. When two of the suspects wind up dead within days of each other, the race is on to untangle the skein of secrets before another dies. Goodwin creates fascinating characters who all seem right at home amongst the Tammany Hall politics and police corruption of the city, which adds a rich authenticity to her depiction of 1850s New York. Dodging gang riots, fireworks, and feisty females, Lightner and Law ultimately forge a deeper bond of respect and trust as they stare down an elusive, butchering killer.

Crooked in His Ways builds upon the promising premise of the first novel and exceeds expectations by a mile. Goodwin’s triumphant sophomore entry delivers a fiendishly intelligent plot, effortless pacing, and a surprise ending ensuring more drama to come.