Another Review at MyShelf.Com

(US Title: The Solitary House)
Lynn Shepherd

Corsair (Constable and Robinson)
2 February 2012/ISBN: 9781780331669
Historical Mystery / 1850 / London
Amazon US - UK

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde

Charles Maddox, a private investigator, is currently on the trail of a woman, who was cast out by her father after becoming pregnant. Last seen many years before giving birth at a local workhouse, he does not hold much hope of tracing her. But it looks as though a more lucrative assignment might be in the offing, for renowned barrister Edward Tulkinghorn wants him to locate somebody too. This person has been writing threatening letters to one of London's wealthiest and most powerful men and Charles has to discover who is behind it all. He is also going to discover a lot more than that.

If one of the names above sounds familiar then you are right. This is not the sequel to Bleak House but more a story featuring some of the characters and dealing with other matters. It also manages to involve, albeit somewhat distantly, characters from The Woman in White as well, so anybody keen on getting stuck into a tortuous Victorian mystery will want to read this one. Told in the present tense for the most part, the story unrolls before us like a colorful, if grimy, length of carpet,which brings it some immediacy. More imaginatively still, it is told in third person as though in the future, although not a lot is made of this apart from the odd surprising mention of present day matters. On the surface it has a lot in common with other mysteries set in Victorian times in its themes and plot strands but the inclusion of characters from literature, sheer depth of research and tactile descriptions set it apart. There are a few surprises too, and at the end I felt I just read something rather more imaginative and thoughtful than the average historical detective novel. Impressive.

US Review: The Solitary House

Reviewer's Note: Gory
Reviewed 2012