Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Lawless and the Flowers of Sin
Lawless Mystery Series – Book II
William Sutton

Titan Books
12 July 2016/ ISBN 9781785650116

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde


Campbell Lawless has an unusual census to collect -- he has been made Inspector of Vice and must collect information on all the brothels, prostitutes and anything else sin related. Lord Palmerston himself is keen for this to happen, and Lawless is given the post because his superior is sure he will do a good job. Or can there be another reason? As he goes about his work, he becomes interested in a violinist called Felix Sonnabend, who is running a charity for fallen women. But all this poking about in dark places brings the attention of some important men who are not keen on what is being brought to light…

Set in 1863, four years after Lawless and the Devil in Euston Square (also reviewed on this site), this is the second in the series. If you have not read the first book, you will miss rather a lot as this is very much a consecutive series. Just like the first book, if you want to find out what life was like in the seamier parts of London back then this is a good place to start. Told in the first person, Lawless gives a gritty and well researched account of a prostitute’s life and contrasts this with peoples’ pride in being the hub of a vast empire. This is a time of great change when new inventions and discoveries were being made, hence the desire – at least in part – to clean up London. There is plenty in this book, as well as tangible descriptions, as the author excels at portraying the various characters and at creating the mystery at the book’s heart. This is not a quick read, and at times there is more description than plot. Sutton has created a novel with a literary feel that was also present in the first one, and the quotations from Baudelaire and Mayhew enhance this. I can imagine this series appealing to a wider range of readers than just histmyst fans. It’s something of a class act, and that bit different to the vast number of detective stories set in foggy Victorian London.

Reviewed 2016