The Mangle Street Murders
The first in the Victorian-era Gower St. Detective series, The Mangle Street Murders brings to life a crime-solving team reminiscent of Holmes and Watson; indeed there’s even an appearance by a certain Dr. Conan Doyle. After her father’s death, Ms. March Middleton leaves her country estate to take up residence with her guardian, Sidney Grice. Although Grice is a well-known private detective, his relationship with March’s family is somewhat mysterious. Once she arrives, Grice’s help is sought by a widow whose daughter has been murdered and whose son-in-law has been arrested. Although the woman insists her son-in-law is innocent, she doesn’t have the required fee and Grice refuses the case. March, however, is touched by the woman’s pleas and offers to pay for the investigation herself.
As they seek clues throughout the poorest areas of the East End, March becomes even more convinced of the man’s innocence while Grice maintains the man is guilty. After the verdict comes in and the son-in-law hangs, March is determined to take action on her own to alleviate the poor client’s suffering. As crowds on the street threaten to erupt in violence over the miscarriage of justice, March and Grice race to discover the true mastermind behind the crime.
I found March to be a delightful protagonist, and her cheeky attitude and willingness to challenge Grice’s persnickety personality and abstemious habits were enjoyable. Although Grice is certainly not a likeable character, the relationship between the two promises to make the series entertaining.