The Devil’s Daughters

Written by Diana Bretherick
Review by Liza Redmond

The second novel from Diana Bretherick is a dark twisting and gothic tale which moves along at a breakneck pace, bringing our hero, the young Scottish doctor James Murray, from his father’s funeral in foggy Edinburgh back to Turin. Here James is once again working with famed criminologist Cesare Lombroso, with whom he served as apprentice. This time, however, James has brought with him his 18-year-old sister Lucy, a writer and would-be lady detective. Murray is on the trail of a missing girl, a cousin of his former lover, Sofia. He soon discovers that a number of other girls have gone missing and that all are connected to a mysterious gothic abbey on the outskirts of the city. Local people are afraid, and there are rumours of haunting and satanic ritual but James is determined to find the missing girl and win back his love.

This is a brilliantly written period thriller that doesn’t stint on the gore and the chills. The female characters are particularly compelling, Lucy does some investigating of her own, and I hope the author gives her a chance to develop her own story in future instalments. The famous Lombroso’s writings on criminality and women’s minds are quoted at the start of each chapter. Surrounded as he is by powerful and intelligent women, the ignorance and narrow scope of 19th-century scholarship on the capabilities of women are sharply highlighted. A thoroughly enjoyable read, and one that fans of Sherlock Holmes are bound to relish.