From Publishers Weekly
Set in 1870 London, King's lively first in a new series introduces hansom cab driver Ned Parker, who hides out with such colorful cohorts as Smiling Sid, Paddy Reilly and Benny the Brain at Hangman's Corner, a former gallows site in Battersea Park. When one of Ned's fares, a possible suspect in the theft of church valuables, turns up in the Thames dead of stab wounds, Ned agrees to assist Det. Rollo "Jacko" Jackson, much as the cabbie's late father used to aid undercover police investigations. After the arrest of fellow driver Herbert Summers for the murder on dubious evidence, Ned vows "to get every cabby in London to help," all 6,000 of them. Ned's quest for justice takes him to the British Museum, where he encounters Karl Marx writing his opus; the blood-soaked Smithfield meat market; and eventually a tunnel under the site of a Spanish treasure galleon's sinking centuries earlier. King (The Jewel of the North) ends his busy, at times improbable tale with a stock chase scene across London. (Apr.)
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King gives readers a wonderfully diverse roundup of characters and classes from Victorian London by having a hansom cab driver as his hero. Ned Parker is kind of a poor man’s Sherlock Holmes: his job matches his passion for observation and carries him into all corners of the city, making him a perfect amateur sleuth. One of Parker’s fares is dressed as a clergyman, but there’s something about his appearance that doesn’t ring right. Parker lets him off, glances away for a moment, and his fare has vanished—until Parker is called to the morgue the next day to identify the fare, a stabbing victim. Parker is drawn into the mystery further when a fellow cabby is arrested for murder. His investigation careens through the British Museum, the Admiralty, and the music halls where his girlfriend, Millie, performs. A wonderfully fun, atmospheric, action-packed historical mystery. --Connie Fletcher