Shepherd-Robinson’s pacy follow up to her debut novel Blood & Sugar is another engrossing murder mystery set in the seedy underbelly of London in the 1780s. Despite sharing many of the story beats from her original book, this sequel tells a fresh and addictive story with it’s own compelling mystery, one even more devious than the original.
Captain Henry Corsham is in France, and in his absence his wife, Caro is left nursing a terrible secret. She finds a friend, a high-society countess, brutally murdered, but when the police discover she was actually a prostitute, the investigation is quickly dropped. Caro takes up the case herself, and is thrown into the world of prostitution, murder and intrigue, running parallel to the fancy galas and performances of upper-class Georgian society.
Sex, power and inequality are the driving themes. First and foremost the sexual inequality between men and women, the despicable behaviour of the men all the more applying the the hypocritical judgements given to women, guilty of far less heinous crimes in the ‘enlightened’ London society. But also the inequality of wealth, representation, truth and justice in a world run with strict class boundaries which were starting to crumble.
The mystery is intricately crafted, and will keep readers guessing until the very end. The narrative jumps forward and backward in time, with subtle clues that will give eagle-eyed readers clues to the final reveal without ever being obvious or giving too much away.
The book tackles powerful themes, given an urgency with a narrative which flicks between three main perspectives, two detectives on the hunt for a killer, and a mysterious third character, who’s story slowly reveals itself as the mystery reaches it’s shocking final act. This book is highly recommended for fans of atmospheric murder mystery with a detailed and engrossing historical backdrop.