The Endicott Evil: A Colin Pendragon Mystery
Fifth in Gregory Harris’s Victorian-era series featuring detective Colin Pendragon and Ethan Pruitt, this novel opens with an investigation into murder. Adelaide Endicott, the elderly sister of Lord Thomas Endicott, has either been pushed, has jumped, or has fallen to her death. As Pendragon and Pruitt investigate the case, they find that Adelaide was a delightful woman, sweet and kind, with nary a nasty word to her name. When Scotland Yard leaps to the conclusion of suicide, her sister Eugenia is convinced otherwise, so the detectives explore a possible motive for murder. Their investigation leads to Lady Stuart, a spiritualist whom Miss Adelaide was wont to frequent. The dead woman was plagued by the ghostly sightings of her lady’s maid’s dead child. This had led to Miss Eugenia banning Lady Stuart from the household. The plot thickens when Pendragon and Pruitt discover phosphorescent powder at the window where the suspected murder-suicide took place, leading even further into investigations of the evil lurking at Layton Manor.
Harris captures the setting details of the Sherlockian mystery with ease. His characters speak in the dialect of Victorian times, and Pendragon and Pruitt are an efficient, irresistible pair of sleuths. The give-and-take between them is enjoyable, and although one is apt to compare them to Holmes and Watson, in this case second man Pruitt has a much more powerful presence as the narrator. The plot twists and turns, yet the reader never loses sight of poor Miss Adelaide and the strictures of the Victorian manor world with which she was surrounded. The introduction of Lady Stuart and the spiritualism is effective and deepens the ghostly aspect of the plot. The only comment I have is that references to the past mystery involving the Huttons is a bit confusing for the reader beginning the series with this book. Otherwise, this is a carefully wrought mystery.