The Isolated Séance (An Irregular Detective mystery, 1)

Written by Jeri Westerson
Review by Tom Vallar

London, 1895. Twenty-six-year-old Timothy Badger was a street urchin of twelve when Sherlock Holmes began using him as his spy. The Baker Street Irregulars find clues Holmes and his Dr. Watson need because, to the everyday person, they are an invisible nuisance. For the last five years, Tim and his talented Black friend, Benjamin Watson, have been scraping by, detecting for Holmes whenever summoned. Now, however, Holmes trusts them to solve a case entirely on their own: the murder of Horace Quinn in his own home during a séance.

Only five people are in the room when the lights go out: Quinn, the medium, his housekeeper, his maid, and Thomas Brent, Quinn’s valet and the one person that police suspect of the crime. Holmes believes Badger and Watson can clear Brent using their own unique means of combing the streets for clues, including finding the elusive medium and uncovering the murder weapon and the motive for the deed. The pair employ their deductive skills, charm, and the unwitting help of a female reporter to ferret out why the Ouija board spelled out “A-T-I-C.”

Westerson has created an endearing ensemble cast at 49b Dean Street that should delight audiences for as many crimes as she wishes them to solve. The action scenes are replete with tension, and the interplay of the main characters teems with authenticity of the period. Highly recommended.