Murder in Park Lane (The Detective Lavender Mysteries)
In fashionable Mayfair of 1812, a man is found murdered, apparently stabbed to death in his locked room. How was he murdered, when no one could enter? Detective Stephen Lavender, a Bow Street Runner, investigates, along with Constable Ned Woods, his trusted assistant. It quickly becomes evident the man was stabbed elsewhere. His restrictive corset delayed his death, preventing his collapse until after he arrived home. But, that is just the beginning of this interesting case. The deceased, David MacAdam, has a wife in Essex who believes she buried her husband a few months previously. Who lies in that coffin? MacAdam also leaves a fiancée, a wealthy Anglo-Indian heiress, who thinks the commercial traveler belonged to the gentry and had no knowledge of his previous marriage. In addition, MacAdam and his friends escorted elderly ladies of the ton here and there, providing masculine companionship and possibly other benefits. Motives abound. But who killed MacAdam?
I found this competently written and well-paced mystery quite enjoyable. It is apparently the fifth in the series; I have not read the others but found the book easily stands alone. The ongoing characters are fully realized and likeable, the plot intrigues, and the sense of the Regency era is well established. Apparently, according to Charlton’s author note, there was a real–life Detective Lavender. Her fictional hero does an excellent job of bringing the man back to life. Lovers of historical mysteries will enjoy this read, and may find a new series they wish to follow. Recommended.