Murder at Half-Moon Gate

Written by Andrea Penrose
Review by Jackie Drohan

This is a thoroughly enjoyable Regency thriller/mystery novel in the same vein and era as The Alienist. The story centers around the murder of a brilliant scientist who has made a revolutionary discovery of a steam-powered engine as yet unknown to the industry. The murder is made to look like a by-product of a burglary, but on closer inspection is clearly pre-meditated.

The novel provides an authentic glimpse into the life both of nobility and those who live by the skin of their teeth on the seedier side of London. Lord Wrexford is a wealthy man, but also a gifted scientist. Having been once accused of murder himself and compelled to prove his own innocence, he is intrigued when the beautiful young widow of the murdered scientist asks for his help. She is sure her husband was killed for his discovery. Wexford enlists the aide of the quick-witted Charlotte Sloane, who has maintained a living for herself and two unlikely wards by penning satirical cartoons under the name of her late husband.

The book is full of interesting characters who come together in a series of unexpected events and provides an interesting treatment of the law of 19th-century English intellectual property rights. Surprisingly approachable and entertaining.