Murder at the British Museum (The Museum Mysteries)

Written by Jim Eldridge
Review by Douglas Kemp

London 1894, and Daniel Wilson and Abigail Fenton have teamed up once again, after solving the murders in Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum (reviewed in HNR 87). This time the British Museum is the location for a murder. An author, Lance Pickering, has been stabbed to death in the gentleman’s toilets. Wilson, a private investigator, is employed by the Museum to investigate the crime, as the Director seems not to have full confidence that Scotland Yard are capable of quickly finding the killer, and the reputation of the British Museum is paramount. Wilson has good relations with Inspector Feather, the official representative from the Yard as they were close colleagues while he was employed by the Metropolitan police – but is otherwise a figure of deep suspicion for Feather’s acerbic superior, Superintendent Armstrong.

Wilson and Fenton are lovers, and scandalous as it may seem to Victorian London, they are living together in brazen sin in Wilson’s house in Camden Town. Their joint investigations reveal a variety of possible suspects and motives, made more complicated by physical attacks on the British Museum’s exhibition of the legend of King Arthur, which was also the subject of the murdered Pickering’s book.

It is an entertaining and well-plotted story that meets the usual criteria and standards of the crime fiction genre. At times though, there is perhaps a little too much history dumped on the reader via rather staged conversations between characters rather than revealed as subtle background.