Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher: Transworld (Random House)
Release Date: 3 February 2003
ISBN: 0552770051
Format Reviewed: Paperback
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Genre: Historical Crime (1900 London)
Reviewed: 2003
Reviewer: Rachel A Hyde
Reviewer Notes: Some graphic descriptions

In The Kingdom of Mists
By Jane Jakeman 

     In the winter of 1900, the artist Monet came to London to sketch the misty atmospheric Thames views. With him came his eldest son, and they stayed at the Savoy; history only records that Monet seemed in a depressed state throughout. In this novel, Jane Jakeman (author of the Lord Ambrose Malfine series) suggests that this might not only have been due to the gloomy weather and plunges the reader into an intense and almost literary tale of murder, showing us the seamy underbelly of Victorian London a la Anne Perry. Monet muses on an earlier visit, the death of his wife and changing fortunes while overhead on the top floor of the hotel wounded officers back from the Boer War convalesce, as well as other more sinister happenings. Naïve young diplomat Oliver Craston is present whilst another body is pulled from the Thames and is drawn into Inspector Garrety's investigation, while Garrety's unhappy wife is forced to try and find a cure for her childless state. These disparate strands are all set to converge, while a psychopathic killer stalks the streets offering us insights into his twisted mind.

     If you like your whodunits fast paced, then this probably won't be for you. There is a lot in here, and only part of it relates to crime--a flaw of the book being its lack of momentum making the mystery part something of a sideline at times. In turns social comment, whodunit, literary endeavor and partly factual description of Monet's eventful life (there are even twelve pages of his paintings), Jakeman's talent lies in creating a very impressionistic impression of London in 1900, and I came away from the book full of misty dawns, gray turbid waters and gas-lit rain-washed streets and also of places where the psychopath has his own chapter and we get a glimpse into hell. A book to read slowly and savor, and for all those who think that crime writing cannot also be literary.

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