Plague Pits & River Bones

Written by Karen Charlton
Review by Cynthia Slocum

Detective Stephen Lavender and Constable Ned Woods of Bow Street are struggling with the extra workload assigned to them. In an effort to earn additional funds for remodeling and expanding the police station, Magistrate Read is sending the principal officers far and wide to investigate crimes at the request of wealthy citizens willing to pay for the service. Nonetheless, when a shoe containing a severed foot washes up on the shore of the Thames, Lavender becomes determined to solve the mystery, despite the magistrate’s order. He and Woods quietly squeeze this potentially futile investigation into their already full schedules.

Lavender travels to meet with an aristocratic couple robbed on the highway after attending an upper-class party. While he is away, a purse snatcher attempts to target Lady Caroline, a good friend of Lavender’s wife. Soon afterwards, a guest at Lady Caroline’s soiree is found dead. The man’s body has been brazenly dumped in one of the old plague pits recently uncovered at Bow Street Station during construction work. The magistrate requires Lavender to spend hours surveilling a disgruntled man who has become a nuisance to a Member of Parliament. However, the detective would much rather investigate a shadowy new criminal gang his informant says has moved to London from the north of England. Once Lavender discovers the connection between all these seemingly unrelated cases, his life is in imminent danger.

Suspense soars when an enigmatic new adversary lures Lavender into a deadly trap. This fourth book in the mystery series combines a well-crafted plot and a set of likeable core characters. It also includes some gripping developments that surpass the routine crimes Bow Street principal officers typically handled, as well as a notorious historical event from 1812 interwoven with the story’s fictional strands.