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The Mangle Street Murders (The Gower Street Detective Series) Paperback – 2014
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“Kasasian’s debut is an unflinching look at the darker side of Victorian London and a portrait of a heroine strong enough to stand up to a thoroughly disagreeable detective. Clever plotting, morbid humor, and colorful characters are a great treat.”
- Kirkus Reviews
“One of the most delightful and original new novels of the year―the first in a series that could well become a cult.”
- The Daily Mail --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
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I could go on, but you get the point. I read an awful lot of 19th century mystery novels in my roles as both book reviewer and editor of an online journal focused on contemporary authors writing about that century. This book is one of those that stood out from the "crowd" immediately, leaving me remembering myriad moments in the story and genuinely eager for the next installment.
If you enjoy clever mysteries, Victorian era puzzles, or just good writing, this is definitely a book to read.
Now to clear up a moot point...this is NOT a Victorian detection novel...i.e. one that was written during the Victorian era, but rather a modern novel ABOUT Victorian London and it just so happens that it is a detection novel.
A young woman, the narrator of the story, has lost her family and has been taken as a ward by a leading London detective. This young lady has ideas and attitudes far, far more advanced than her contemporaries and are, and she is quite quick to voice her opinion. She talks her new caretaker (that is part of the story so no spoilers here) to let her work on his most current case and together - the older detective and the very bright young lady set about solving the crime of murder...or is it multiple murders?
Now I notice that several reviewers have stated that the writing is chopping in places. I read the hardback version of this and I am either slow on the uptake, or there is a problem with the Kindle edition of this book because I encountered absolutely no difficulties in following the story what so ever. As a matter of fact, I found this book to be very well written in every sense of the word. The strongest part of this work is the wonderful dialog between the young girl and the older detective and indeed, between quite a number of the characters in this story. It was actually quite funny at times and I found my self smiling a lot and chuckling from time to time.
Now I do not consider myself an `expert' when it comes to this era by any means; no, far from it. But with that being said I can tell you that I have been reading books about this era at a pretty steady pace for around 60 years now and I was unable to find anything to critical of as to the author's research and facts. Hey, some of those hundreds of books were bound to rub off on me on some level. If there were errors they are probably errors of perception and folks, you will have to dig pretty deep to even find those.
Now the detective for whom the young girl is a ward is, as others have pointed out, an extremely unlikeable character. If I find fault with the author's portrayal of him it would be the fact that she has used every stereotype of the upper class snobbish Englishman of that time and wrapped the all into one very remarkably unlikable passage. There is hope for him though...we see hints of this throughout the book via careful reading and I have a feeling that in future novels we will see this character evolve even more.
The plot flows nicely and is easy to follow and the twists and turns as to the `mystery' are adequate and well executed.
I suppose that when all is said and done, like every book ever written, it all boils down to the reading taste of the individual reader. I personally loved this thing and cannot wait to get to the next offering.
This was a library find.