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Mind of a Killer
Alec Londale Victorian Mystery – Book I
Simon Beaufort

Severn House
UK 29 December 2017 / US 1 April 2018/ ISBN 978 0727887627

Reviewed by Rachel Hyde 

London 1882: Alec Londale has come back from his posting overseas and is pursuing his dream to be a reporter. Working for the Pall Mall Gazette, he is sent to cover the story of a house fire where the owner died, but this ordinary tragedy soon takes a turn for the weird. The autopsy reveals that somebody has stolen part of the victim’s brain, and a tipoff as to more possible cases ends in another death. Soon the bodies are piling up, and Alec has to discover whodunit since the police don’t seem to be getting on well with their own investigation…

The late nineteenth century is a departure for Simon Beaufort aka Susanna Gregory who normally favors earlier periods. Fans of her considerable output will be pleased that there is the usual rather madcap mix of detection, humor, lots of bodies and larger-than-life characters. Hapless Alec is a gentleman without a gentleman’s income doing a job not considered very respectable, and he lives reluctantly with his barrister brother. At his side is the formidable Hulda Friederichs (based on a real person) and together they have to find out why anybody would want to steal brains while juggling other assignments. It is not hard to guess the why, but who is a different matter and there are red herrings aplenty, as well as a lot of detective work and even some action. The action is a couple of fights, and it is rather hard to see how two people can quickly get the better of a group of seasoned toughs but this, as well as the plot, are all part of what makes this author’s work a bit different. If you have enjoyed this author’s other work or fancy trying something lively albeit rather farfetched, then this will probably appeal.

Reviewed 2018