Murder at the Tower of London (Museum Mysteries 9)

Written by Jim Eldridge
Review by Douglas Kemp

London in the summer of 1899, and George and Abigail Fenton embark upon their ninth investigation in the Museum Detectives series. After their success in solving the murder at the Victoria and Albert Museum and receiving the gratitude of the Queen, they are called in by the Prince of Wales, Prince Albert Edward, to investigate the murder of a Yeoman Warder at the Tower of London. Eric James’s body was found in a suit of armour that was made for Henry VIII. The recent murder of Eric’s twin brother in adjacent Whitechapel suggests strongly that the two deaths are connected. A murder of a potential informer sharpens minds and makes the Fentons aware that they are dealing with some ruthless killers who have a huge prize as their aim, especially when gangland criminality and police corruption make their investigations very dangerous. This is not a murder mystery, more of a private investigator and Scotland Yard procedural novel, as the reader is made aware of the criminals and their machinations early on in the narrative.

The story zips along pleasantly while our two intrepid and eminently likeable detectives immerse themselves in the task. Occasionally, just a little too much history is clunkily thrown in – it is interesting, but sits uneasily within the smooth narrative flow of the story. And there are a few words and phrases that were not in current use in Victorian London. Part of the story that involves a character, the Duke of Cranbrook, the highest noble rank in Britain, are completely off-key and do not reflect the realities of how such stratospherically important individuals would be perceived and act in late 19th-century Britain. Certainly, Abigail would never introduce him to a junior archaeologist as “he’s the one who’s sponsoring the dig.” Nevertheless, an enjoyable and engaging read.