Dance with Death (A Barker & Llewelyn Novel 12)

Written by Will Thomas
Review by Anne Leighton

A delicious romp through Victorian London’s high society as well as its criminal underworld, this book, the thirteenth in the Barker & Llewelyn series, will appeal to Anglophiles and fans of suspense. It’s 1893, and in the manner of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Cyrus Barker and his assistant, Thomas Llewelyn, run a private enquiry service. Their client is the future tsar of Russia, the Tsarevich Nicholas, in London for a royal wedding, and Barker and Llewelyn must protect him from a mysterious assassin known only as “La Sylphide.” A suffragette adept at disguises aids them in their race with time before the wedding.

The plot involves a colorful cast of characters: a besotted Polish ballerina, scheming grand dukes, the Russian security forces, and a beautiful Russian anarchist who may or may not be La Sylphide. The investigative skills of Barker and Llewelyn must unravel the assassination plot before the royal wedding ends in tragedy.

The book is impressively researched and provides an insider’s look at the lives of 19th-century royalty as well as new techniques of policing developed during the reign of Queen Victoria. Thomas has a deft hand for mixing history and suspense. The story is tightly plotted and combines history, subtle humor and a cliffhanger ending that leaves the reader hungry for a sequel.