Wednesday 9 September 2020

A Discovering Diamonds Review of Daughters of the Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson

available for pre-order - unfortunately not available until February 2021!

Amazon UK
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murder mystery

"London, 1782. Desperate for her politician husband to return home from France, Caroline 'Caro' Corsham is already in a state of anxiety when she finds a well-dressed woman mortally wounded in the bowers of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The Bow Street constables are swift to act, until they discover that the deceased woman was a highly-paid prostitute, at which point they cease to care entirely. But Caro has motives of her own for wanting to see justice done, and so sets out to solve the crime herself. Enlisting the help of thieftaker, Peregrine Child, their inquiry delves into the hidden corners of Georgian society, a world of artifice, deception and secret lives. But with many gentlemen refusing to speak about their dealings with the dead woman, and Caro's own reputation under threat, finding the killer will be harder, and more treacherous than she can know . . ."

Caro Corsham is waiting for her husband to return home from France but she has no idea when he is coming home. Which is a pity as she's just discovered she's pregnant by her lover and she needs her husband to return soon in order to pass off the baby as his. This, however, soon becomes the least of her concerns when Lucia, the lady she has arranged to meet in Vauxhall Gardens, dies in her arms. The revelation that she was not the Italian heiress she had thought her, but a prostitute by the name of Lucy Loveless, and Caro becomes far more involved with searching for Lucy's killer. And, as if to compound her troubles, her erstwhile lover, Lord March, soon becomes a suspect.

This is an excellent novel. The tension continues apace; through the whole narrative, twists and turns, dead ends and confusion, we follow the story through the eyes of three people. They are: Caro herself, Perry Child, a thief-taker employed by Caro to find the killer, and Pamela, a girl we know nothing about but whose story becomes entwined with Lucy's and whose presumed murder had, in its turn, obsessed Lucy. The stories are woven together and the threads gradually drawn together to a resolution that is as surprising as it is satisfactory.

The historical detail just keeps coming so the reader is immersed into the best of BBC costume dramas. Everything is there: sounds, colours, smells. It is quite remarkable.

However, as few things are truly perfect, this - hopefully proof copy I read - has its moments. Some dialogue, especially interrogations between characters, is flat and like a game of tennis with little to break up the question, answer, question, answer format. It is like having Prime Suspect on TV with your eyes closed. And some of the explanations given by some characters tend to be long and although informative, a bit dull with little breaking up the soliloquy and therefore become info dumps. A cordial becomes tea in one scene, but this is minor. What really annoyed me and made me wonder at the author, was her use of Spanish even in the mouths of characters who are from Italy and Portugal. It makes no sense. Hopefully these details will be picked up before publication.

These are picky comments though, and they won't stop me from recommending this to friends and family as a tight, tense novel and a glorious journey through the London of George III..

Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 

© Nicky Galliers

 e-version reviewed

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