The Chinaman’s Bastard

Written by Amanda Taylor
Review by Laura Staley

When Daniel Robertshaw is seen standing over a mysterious young woman, and that woman is later found dead and mutilated, the villagers of Staithes are sure he has committed murder. Daniel is called the Chinaman’s Bastard—there is little understanding of Down’s Syndrome in 1897—and his strange looks and unusual behavior convince them that he is capable of this appalling crime. One of his few defenders is James Cairn, a barrister and amateur paleontologist, who begins his investigation with a traumatized client, an unknown victim, and public opinion running high against him.

Set on the Yorkshire coast and in a York courtroom, this novel is replete with details of late 19th-century English coastal and city life. The writing is professional, and while the pace can be slow, the story finishes with the mystery satisfyingly solved and justice done. Recommended for fans of historical courtroom mysteries.