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Review–Solitary House by Lynn Shepherd



London in 1850 was no place for the weak. Wretched, filthy, full to bursting with desperate people. The wealthy, of course, took advantage and had it all.

Charles Maddox, a disgraced police officer, is now struggling to make a living as a 'private detective' although he doesn't use the term. He still has his contacts on Bow Street which helps, as does the fact he was raised by his grandfather who was a famous 'Thief-taker' of Bow Street. Using his grandfather's methods he's found a case that takes him into the mire and mirk of rotting bodies buried in a horrid cemetery where the police have dug up rotting babies.   Charles, whose own baby sister was stolen from his mother's arms, and has never gotten over it, sees his sister in those babies and needs to learn more.

Shortly after his visit to the cemetery he's contacted by a famous lawyer and hired for another case. Charles, desperate for money accepts the case despite the fact he has reservations due to the lawyer's reputation as a ruthless man. Thus, Charles is drawn deeper and deeper into trying to find out who is sending threatening notes to an extremely wealthy banker.  When he does discover the man's identity, then things get worse. And grimmer and Charles, although he is warned off several times, has to find out the secrets the banker and the lawyer are trying desperately to keep.

Shepherd evokes a wretched and atmospheric London, one that totally suits the story. It is a bit of a pastiche with elements from Bleak House woven through the storyline. Her characters are beautifully drawn and the mystery is complex enough that if you do guess some of it, you need to, like Charles, discover all of it.

Highly recommended!  I look forward to reading more from this author!

(This book was won through the Library Thing Early Reviewer Program)

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