The Butcher’s Block (A Dan Foster Mystery)

Written by Lucienne Boyce
Review by Mary Fisk

This is the second Georgian-era murder-mystery featuring Bow Street Runner, Dan Foster. When a pair of bodysnatchers are arrested taking a basket of human remains to the dissection rooms, Dan and his fellow Runners are horrified to discover that the head and hands belong to one of their own – Officer George Kean.

Kean’s murder soon has Dan on a dangerous undercover mission as the investigation of the bodysnatchers leads him to London’s radical groups, some of who plan petitions and debate the extension of the franchise whilst others plot terrorism and revolution.

However, I think it would have been useful to have read the opening novel in the series (Bloodie Bones) to gain a fuller understanding of the dynamics of Dan’s personal life that drive the plot.

The time frame is not made clear until the final chapters, when the defeat of the Dutch fleet at Camperdown is celebrated and we can pinpoint the action precisely to 1797. The author of The Vindication of the Rights of Women (sic; it’s actually Woman) is referred to as Mrs, rather than Miss, Wollstonecraft (p.103).

Otherwise, this is a thoroughly engaging adventure story. Recommended.