Season of Darkness (A Gaslight Mystery)

Written by Cora Harrison
Review by Ilysa Magnus

In Harrison’s newest mystery series, she introduces the investigative team of Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins: Dickens, the already established novelist, and Collins, a bit wet behind the ears and enamored of Dickens’ writing and clever observations.

A young housemaid, Isabella, is found murdered.  As a former participant in Dickens’ Urania Cottage experiment, the elder author knew her well and is able to identify her immediately.  Dickens and Collins determine to find her killer.  With Collins as the narrator (he does seem to have a much more amiable personality to which women are attracted), the authors are off to the races, tracking down possible leads, interviewing potential murderers and deciphering what becomes an increasingly complex mystery.

As a fan of Harrison’s other mystery series, I found the plot, although convoluted and at times, interesting, too overdrawn and bulky. There just isn’t enough action.  And as clever as these authors are, we needed to cut to the chase more quickly.  What is fun is the tour through Victorian London – including all the seamy stuff of which there is plenty — and Harrison’s portrayal of Dickens, who moves from pomposity to insightfulness and back.  I would still read the next installment in the Gaslight series because Harrison is an eminently talented and creative author.