The Path of the Wicked
Queen Victoria’s Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli calls upon his favorite “private intelligencer,” gentlewoman Liberty Lane, at the start of history-mystery The Path of the Wicked. But she stoutly refuses to spy and quickly turns to a case she’s just refused: to travel to rural Gloucestershire to uncover the truth of a murdered governess. A local magistrate and confessed “coward” had hired her because he’s uneasy about the quick arrest of Jack Picton, a political agitator for the crime. Soon a mysterious horse racing bet, a disappearance, elopement, and a judgment of infanticide all figure into the mix.
This is the sixth in the Liberty Lane series. Peacock (pseudonym of crime novelist Gillian Linscott) gets her clever heroine off and running, and the taut pace continues until the real murderer is uncovered. On her way, Liberty is assisted by her stout defender and fellow horseman, Amos Legge, and Tabby, street-smart sometime lady’s maid. She also delves deeper that the town wishes into the lives of two absent women: Mary Marsh, the murder victim, and the accused Jack’s sister Joanna, tried and convicted of her illegitimate baby’s death. Both are connected, key to solving the mystery, and achieve vibrant life under Peacock’s deft hand.
Layered with wonderful characterization, knowledge of the time and place, and political consciousness, The Path of the Wicked should please readers who like their mysteries in, of, and looking beyond their period.