Sprinkled with jokes, it gives the traditional ‘detective plus sidekick’ format a twist. Victorian detective Sidney Grice – a grumpy version of Sherlock Holmes – is partnered with his ward, March Middleton. The male/female partnering lets Kasasian often poke fun at 19th century (and more recent) misogyny and is also deftly portrayed with a switchbacking between which of them is really the best crimefighter and which is the petulantly flawed.
Rather like the switching back and forth of roles in the film Thelma and Louise, this departure from the usual superior plus inferior pairing makes the book (even) more enjoyable as the pair investigate a murder which itself has a satisfyingly large number of plausible misdirections to keep you guessing for most of the book as to who really did it.
At times the parallels with the Sherlock Holmes stories are a little too persistent but Grice is consistently unpleasant enough to keep the book just fresh enough, and the lives of working class people for once in a Victorian detective novel get lengthy and sympathetic coverage rather than just being an occasional walk-on adornment to a plot about rich people.
A promising start to a new series and enjoyable in its own right.
If you like this, you might also be interested in A Cruel Necessity – A John Grey Historical Mystery by L.C. Tyler.
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