This debut novel by Denise Meredith is an entertaining read. It reminded me of Masterpiece Mystery with the many characters introduced at the beginning of her story. I wondered where they were all going and how they would fit, but she ties it all up neatly at the end.
The book opens with the murder of Lady Bessingham, a wealthy patron of the scientific community and missing letters sent to her from the field. Benjamin Broderig, explorer and author of the letters, is desperate to find them as their publication could cause an upheaval in the religious and scientific communities. Dr, Adolphus Hatton, a professor of forensics and his assistant, Albert Roumonde, are hard at work using the only tools available in 1856 London. As the “botanicals” fall – one by one and none of the deaths are easy ones – Dr. Hatton teams up with Inspector Adams of Scotland Yard in a race to stop the killer and find the letters.
We see the dark side of London society as young girls are found brutally murdered and left in back alleys unknown and unloved. Roumonde is desperate to find their killer, but Inspector Adams feels they are not worth the effort when more “important” people are being killed. When another young girl is found murdered and holding a book, they are led to the gruesome body of a reclusive book dealer. As more bodies are found and more clues come to light, Dr. Hatton feels the connection may go beyond the scientific community to include a member of parliament and possibly Inspector Adams, who “moonlights” in the employ of several of the upper class.
The author does a good job of bringing the wintry streets of Victorian London and the steamy jungles of Borneo to life as she tells her story.