Murder in the Pleasure Gardens
An engaging premise – Regency dandy Beau Brummell as amateur sleuth – appears slightly tarnished and tired in this latest installment of Stevens’ mystery series. The Beau, responding to a plea from a young lady, lends his assistance to her beloved, a young army lieutenant accused of committing murder in the pleasure gardens of Vauxhall. Brummell by now has hit a rough patch in his close friendship with Freddie, the married Duchess of York. Increasingly he feels an attraction for Miss Lavender, whose shelter, the Haven for Hope, supports and reforms downtrodden women. This lady’s father happens to be a Bow Street Runner, who resents the Beau’s interference, crime-solving efforts, and his interest in the daughter. The usual characters appear: Chakkri, the “only Siamese cat in England,” and Robinson, Brummell’s moody dresser/valet, both clunky devices for unloading information. The dialect is heavy-handed and the vocabulary, at times, distinctly un-English.