Posts Tagged ‘1840s’

It is 1844, and Pyke is now heading up the Detective Branch of the new Metropolitan Police Force.  When a robbery at a pawnbrokers leaves three men dead, Pyke soon recognises one of the victims as having links with Pyke’s own criminal past, and has to try and solve the crime before secrets from his own past are revealed.

However, this is only the first problem that Pyke will encounter during the investigation.  When the rector of a wealthy parish is murdered some months later, and a valuable antique cross is stolen, Pyke sees a connection and sets out to solve the mystery.  He soon discovers that somebody – possibly one of the men he works for – wants to keep the matter hushed up and is prepared to sacrifice Pyke’s career, or worse, to do so.  It isn’t long before he realises that he doesn’t know who he can trust – or indeed if he can trust anybody.

Meanwhile, Pyke has to deal with loss in his personal life, and a growing detachment from his 14 year old son Felix…

This is the fourth novel in the Pyke series.  All of the books have been enjoyable and this one, like those preceding it, is very readable.  The author captures the atmosphere of Victorian London, and clearly knows his subject well.  One aspect of the series that has been fascinating is how it describes the development of a police force in London from the beginning.

Pyke is somewhat more restrained in this book – necessarily so due to his job as a police inspector.  Whereas in the previous novels he was a Bow Street Runner and then an independent (of sorts) investigator, he now has a duty to uphold the law and therefore is not always able to turn to his former methods of obtaining information.  He is also becoming more considered as he gets older and is starting to realise that how he lives his life directly affects how his son Felix sees the world.

The mystery itself is satisfying, if sometimes a little over-complicated and it was occasionally necessary to remind myself who was who, and occasionally what a particular character’s role in the story was.  The ending however was excellent – probably the best ending of any of the novels so far in the series, with a twist that I certainly couldn’t have predicted.

For the most part, the characters are well drawn, and the development of Felix’s character suggests that he might play an even bigger role in future novels.  I liked the dynamic between Pyke and Felix – they love each other dearly, but don’t really understand each other.  Some of the other characters in the book were interesting to read about – I hope that the priest Martin Jakes might feature in any future Pyke novels – especially the other officers in the detective branch.

Overall, I wouldn’t say that this is the best Pyke book, but it’s certainly a worthwhile and enjoyable addition to the series.  Recommended to fans of crime and/or historical fiction.

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London 1940, and Pyke, hero (of sorts) of this series is in debtors jail, having squandered his fortune.  His erstwhile friend Fitzroy Tilling – now a senior figure in the New Police, makes Pyke an offer – he will let him get out of prison early, if Pyke will investigate the murder of a mixed-race woman whose mutilated body has been found in one of the rougher areas of London.  A wealthy aristocrat has also been murdered and all of the Police Force’s energies are being used to solve that matter, hence the reason that Tilling has called Pyke in.

Pyke accepts the job, but quickly realises that there is far more to the case than it initially appears.  His investigation takes him from smog-filled London, to the beautiful plains of Jamaica, as he uses all of his cunning, intelligence, and often violence and threats, to unravel the story.

Meanwhile, Pyke’s son Felix is now 10 years old, but these days he seems to be resentful and rebellious towards his father, and Pyke desperately wants to repair their relationship.  A murder investigation can only hamper his efforts due to the amount of his time he invests, but he is determined to solve the mystery.

This is the third book in the Pyke series.  It isn’t necessary to have read the preceding two books, although it helps as Pyke’s character is developed throughout the stories.  Here, he is in a more contemplative mood as he gets older and considers the results that his actions may have on his son.  However, he has lost none of his tendency to violence and intimidation – but he does seem to have a more sharpened sense of right and wrong, and seems to judge himself more harshly.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first book, but the second one was something of a disappointment (though still a good read) with it’s over-complicated story.  This book is a return to form.  While there are plenty of twists, turns, red herrings and dead ends, the story is a lot tighter than the events of ‘The Revenge of Captain Paine’ (book 2),and I found it a to be a great story.

As always, London’s atmosphere is brought to life, and I also enjoyed the description of the Jamaica plains.  The part of the story set in Jamaica was probably my favourite part – Pyke encounters hostility from the recently emancipated former black slaves, and finds himself questioning his own beliefs.  Andrew Pepper always seems able to provide plenty of description while never letting go of the story itself.  The ending of the story came as a real shock, and I certainly could not have predicted what would happen.

As well from Pyke himself, there are the usual dangerous underworld criminals, and Pyke’s family and friends.  He is the only really developed character, but the character of Felix is starting to grow nicely and I hope that he will feature in the ensuing books in the series.

Not one for the faint hearted, this is a fast moving and sometimes gruesome story which delves into the world of prostitution and illegal pornography.  There is a great murder mystery as the main thread of the book, and I would certainly recommend this book to fans of crime thrillers.

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