The young guns of historical crime fiction

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On the radar – This week’s report takes a look at some welcome returns by three British young guns of crime fiction and another one from across the pond. All four titles we bring you present a chance to step back in time as their  protagonists attempt to solve crimes back in various historical eras. Read on…

Treacherous LikenessA Treacherous Likeness by Lynn Shepherd
Lynn Shepherd first appeared in our bookshops back in September 2010 when she debuted with a murder mystery which took us back to the world of Jane Austen and a killer on the loose at Mansfield Park. In September last year, her second book Tom-All-Alone’s used Bleak House by Charles Dickens as its backdrop, and Charles Maddox, great nephew of the detective in her earlier novel. The young detective returns for a new case in A Treacherous Likeness, and his client is the son of the long-dead poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife, Mary. A bitter battle is being waged over Shelley’s literary legacy, but it’s a chance discovery regarding the circumstances of his first wife’s death that draw Charles into something far more sinister, and the shocking possibility that his own great-uncle may have been party to a cover up. A Treacherous Likeness is out now.
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Devoured by DE MeredithDevoured
Regular readers may recall our review of The Devil’s Ribbon following its US release in October 2011, and our recent competition to win yourself a copy. UK publisher Allison & Busby has launched the novel here for British readers alongside its prequel, Devoured which introduces us to a new style of Victorian detection – sleuthing by forensics and autopsy examination. Professor Adolphus Hatton and his able morgue assistant Albert Roumande embark on their first investigation when they are called to examine a crime scene, complete with corpse. Lady Bessingham has been discovered in her bedroom surrounded by her vast collection of fossils and tribal masks. As the pair dig deeper, they find that her death may not be an isolated killing. The discovery of a packet of highly seditious letters that threaten the stability of the London elite, and a trail of murders, all hint at a much darker reason for the Lady’s death.
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Poisoned IslandThe Poisoned Island by Lloyd Shepherd
In March 2012, journalist turned crime writer Lloyd Shepherd made his literary debut with The English Monster. Today, he’s back with another tale of murder set in 19th century London. The year is 1812, England’s war with France is ongoing, but it’s also a time of exploration. It’s been more than 30 years since Captain James Cook’s final voyage to the Pacific, and another ship has just returned to England crammed with botanical specimens. But flora and fauna aren’t the only things the crew appear to have brought back from Tahiti with them. Within days of the Solange docking, its sailors begin to turn up dead with their throats slashed and their treasure chests ransacked. The case is assigned to constable Charles Horton to investigate.
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The Chalice by Nancy BilyeauChalice
Last year US author Nancy Bilyeau was nominated for the CWA’s Ellis Peters Historical Dagger for her debut novel, The Crown. In it we met Joanna Stafford, a novice at Dartford Priory who found herself caught up in the middle Henry VIII’s Reformation of the English church, and a mission to find a relic believed to have been lost in the mists of time. It’s now 1538 and Joanna is about to embark on her next investigation. This time, she finds herself the subject of a prophecy, which not only finds her smack bang in the middle of a conspiracy that threatens the King’s person but with the future of Christendom in her hands. With the Tudor spy network at work, will Joanna complete her mission or find herself back in one of the Tower’s torture chambers?
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