Murder in Montague Place
This is the first adult novel by Martyn Beardsley, a prolific children’s author. Set in the Victorian world of the recently formed Detective Department of Scotland Yard, it is well-written, with a few nods to Victorian style in the use of authorial comments. Dickens aficionados will recognise Inspector Bucket from Bleak House, who has to negotiate departmental etiquette when Eleanora Scambles claims her husband has been wrongly arrested for murder by his colleague, Inspector Stope.
Negotiating the worlds of the poor and the aristocracy, Bucket, with his assistant Sergeant Gordon, sets out to discover who is stealing ferns from the members of the National Truss Society for the Relief of the Ruptured Poor (not, as I first thought, a joke by the author but which did actually exist), while also investigating peripheral aspects of the murder case. With vivid and in some cases affecting descriptions of Victorian life, a complicated plot with a satisfactory resolution, and two engaging main characters, this is the first in a series, I hope, of novels to look out for.