Death in Hellfire

Written by Deryn Lake
Review by jay Dixon

This is the latest novel in Deryn Lake’s excellent John Rawlings mystery series. After his adventures in Cornwall, told in Death and the Cornish Fiddler, John Rawlings is back in London, amongst his familiar set of friends – his adopted father, his friend Samuel Swann, and, of course, his mentor Sir John Fielding, who asks him to investigate what he fears is a politically subversive society, known to history as the Hell Fire Club.

Disguised as the son of an Irish peer, John is invited to dine by Sir Francis Dashwood at West Wycombe Park, where he meets his ex-mistress, Coralie Clive, now married, with a ten-year-old daughter. It is her husband who John finds dead in the grounds, after a night of debauchery at Medmenham Abbey, murdered by one of a long list of possible suspects, including his daughter.

Full of descriptions of Georgian London, and with an admirable depiction of a certain set of Georgian aristocrats, Death in Hellfire keeps up the standard set by the very first book in the series, with flashes of humour, a pleasantly sketched love affair for a secondary character, and a well-worked out resolution. Altogether a highly readable story.