Mortimer Blakely Is Missing
This is the second in Taylor’s series about James Cairn, a barrister in York, England, at the turn of the last century. It has had good reviews on Amazon, with readers enjoying the historical and geographical detail. Personally I found they held up the story and were so numerous that it was difficult to uncover the essential elements of the plot. Every time something new (including at one point a particular cheese) was referred to, the author gave us its historical background in some detail.
The plot revolves around the Rev. Hobb, who is arrested in York wearing a woman’s dress and is accused of soliciting, an obviously trumped-up charge. James Cairn agrees to take his case, and as a result of this and a sub-plot involving political sects, finds himself travelling to London, the Isle of Wight, and Amsterdam. As Hobb had nothing to do with these sects, I found it difficult to unite the two plots.
I also found it difficult to raise an interest in any of the characters and found the hero too good to be true: he is very modern in his outlook on homosexuality, what we now call cross-dressing, and racism. The world was changing in its attitude towards these in 1899, but I question whether Cairn would be quite so liberal in his views.
I never really got into this novel, until the trial scene in the last 64 pages, which was well-written and full of tension.