I do love a good historical mystery – ones that give me insight into a time and place gone by. I especially like the early novels of David Liss, particularily A Conspiracy of Paper, and Lynn Shepherd’s new novel The Solitary House is very reminiscent of that wonderful book. Her earlier book, Murder at Mansfield Park, brilliantly reimagined the time of Jane Austen, and The Solitary House explores the gas lit, back alleys of Dickens’ London.
Charles Maddox was an up-and-coming officer for the Metropolitan police until a charge of insubordination abruptly ended his career. Now he works alone, struggling to eke out a living by tracking down criminals. Whenever he needs it, he has the help of his great-uncle Maddox, a legendary “thief taker,” a detective as brilliant and intuitive as they come.
He’s approached by Edward Tulkinghorn, the shadowy and feared attorney, who offers him a handsome price to do some sleuthing for a client. Powerful financier Sir Julius Cremorne has been receiving threatening letters, and Tulkinghorn wants Charles to—discreetly—find and stop whoever is responsible. What starts as a relatively straight forward case soon spirals out of control, and is further complicated when uncle Maddox shows signs of forgetfulness and anger, symptoms of an age-related ailment that has yet to be named. (To further confuse matters, this book is published in UK under another title – Tom-All-Alone’s.)