Death Makes No Distinction: A Dan Foster Mystery

Written by Lucienne Boyce
Review by Mary Fisk

Lucienne Boyce’s late 18th-century Dan Foster mysteries move from strength to strength. In this third adventure, our hero – child street-thief turned pugilist turned Bow Street Runner – is confronted by two brutal murders of women.

One is poor and nameless. The other is Louise Parmeter, former actress and former mistress of the Prince of Wales. Louise’s diamonds and her unpublished memoirs, in which she has exposed the foibles of her many wealthy lovers, are also missing. Dan’s superiors demand that he gives priority to the high-profile Parmeter case, although his own escape from the desperate poverty in which he was raised gives him a natural sympathy for those dealt a rough hand by life.

There will be no simple solution to either investigation as he follows clues and suspects from the mansions of Mayfair and the new suburbs of Bloomsbury to the world of the destitute poor in the slums around St. Giles and Covent Garden and the river wharves.

Lucienne Boyce skilfully and tangibly evokes Georgian London with her evocative and, at times, visceral, description. I particularly loved the “wet-beast smell of the mud banks” as Dan trails a suspect down to the Thames. Although some of the backstory is explained, it would benefit the reader to be familiar with the two previous books, partly to pinpoint a timeline and also because events and relationships from Dan’s previous cases come to bear on the plot here, and now take form in a sinister threat to Dan’s own family.