Terror by Gaslight

Written by Edward Taylor
Review by Mike Ashworth

Victorian London. A serial killer is stalking Hampstead Heath, killing an apparently random victim every month with a single knife thrust, sowing terror in the hearts and minds of the local population. Major Henry Steele and ex-Sergeant Mason, both recently retired from Military Intelligence and now working as private investigators, are helping Scotland Yard hunt the so called “Heath Maniac”. The two men begin to suspect a link between the victims. Their investigation takes them into the polite and seemingly respectable homes on the heath, through to a shady lawyer, a vivisectionist, and the bedside of a dying comedian before the Maniac is finally exposed.

The author effectively evokes the dark underside of Victorian society as the two detectives carry out their investigations. The characters are well drawn and substantial, while the plot is well structured, convincing and builds up to a satisfying conclusion. The banter between the two detectives provides light relief against the darker investigation. There is potential here for a series of novels featuring these two gentlemen in what is a welcome addition to the genre of Victorian detective fiction. An enjoyable read.