"Harrison does an excellent job weaving in the history of the orphaned children during the Victorian Age. She paints a vivid picture of the hardships and the lives that the poor children endured"
Mystery / Young Adult
The first of six Victorian London Murder Mysteries by Cora Harrison, The Montgomery Murder introduces readers to four young boys and their faithful dog. Led by twelve-year-old Alfie, the orphaned boys and their dog are left to their own ruses to survive the cold and foggy streets of 1856 England. When a ruse goes wrong and Alfie is caught with a stolen loaf of bread, he soon finds himself inside the police station, facing Inspector Denham. After asking young Alfie to identify a dead man, the Inspector makes Alfie an offer that sets the stage for a mystery that leads Alfie, his gang, and their faithful dog, on an adventure that shows how the wits and wiles of the orphaned children can bring justice to the dangerous streets of their city.
Harrison does an excellent job weaving in the history of the orphaned children during the Victorian Age. She paints a vivid picture of the hardships and the lives that the poor children endured just so they could survive from one day to the next. As Harrison developed each of the characters’ journeys throughout the story, their strengths and their youthful flaws moved the story forward. With each turn of the page, I found myself falling deep into the time period, living the torments of the boys’ lives, and realizing their courage and the power of their unity to survive.
Reading about the reality of the children’s lives during this time period drew out feelings of sadness and anguish. As a novel for young adults, The Montgomery Murder would set the stage to help today’s youth gain a sense of how children were treated and viewed during most of the 19th century. This is a story that could easily be integrated into a Humanities unit that opens the door for discussions on why and how child labor laws were first put into place to protect children. It is a story that can be used to discuss the ethics on how some children are also treated today. It really highlights how literature can teach children empathy.
In the end, young adults will discover the vitality and the will of four young boys and their dog as they work toward survival by solving a mystery.
Harrison’s first novel in the series of six mysteries will leave readers wanting more of the adventures that take place in Victorian London.
© Cathy Smith