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The Architect of Murder Hardcover – February 27, 2009
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Major Alec Marshall served as a policeman prior to his joining the army and receiving the Victoria Cross. Alec has returned to England after learning of his sister, Dr. Ellen Marshall. Her close friend, Miss Roberta Paterson, believes Ellen was murdered and wants Alec to investigate.
Supt. William Melville of Scotland Yards, CID, is short of men owing to the upcoming coronation of Edward VII, would also like Marshall's help. Cecil Rhodes, one of the wealthiest men in Great Britain has died. The witnesses to the last two codicils, two of whom are in London are needed in Cape Town. Assigned to work with Inspector Truegood, they find one of the witnesses murdered and uncover a plan set to impact the future of the British Empire.
It is always wonderful to pick up a book which looks somewhat interesting and find it to be completely fascinating and exciting.
McGregor has created interesting, substantive characters. The protagonist, Alec Marshall, is one of the most fully drawn characters I've read in awhile. Although initially, it is challenging to put together the pieces of Alec's background, particularly with people misrepresenting his rank, it does sort itself out. While he utilizes the logic and skills he learned as a policeman and a soldier, what I particularly liked was the breath of emotion given to Alec.
Roberta Paterson has a career and supports the vote for women but is still aware of social conventions. Truegood is a cop's cop; he's unimpressed by Alec and distrustful of his motives but will cover his back when the situation requires it.
Historical events and figures are incorporated in a realistic manner. Because of the number of characters, it could have been confusing. McGregor avoided that pitfall by reminding us of who the characters and their relationship to each other. Rather than this being redundant, it provides clarity and is well incorporated into the plot.
McGregor employs Alec in conveying the sense of time and place. With his transition back into London, we witness his observations on telephones, the crowds, traffic, noise and the smell of the air. There are descriptions of the manners and multi-course meals of the period, with particular attention given to men's attire and facial hair, and the various levels of economic and social strata. The tendresse which develops between Alec and Roberta is completely appropriate to the period.
A lot of information had to be included for the story to make sense, but I was never bored. There are shocking revelations and very dramatic confrontations. The story was informative, educational, exciting, suspenseful, dramatic and altogether wonderful. I can't wait for the next book.
THE ARCHITECT OF MURDER (Hist Mys-Alec Marshall-England-Gaslight/1901) - Ex
McGregor, Rafe - 1st in series
Hale, ©2009, UK Hardcover - ISBN: 9780709087281