1882, and it is almost Christmas. Reporter Alec Lonsdale and
his colleague, Hulda Friedricks, are attending the opening
of the new Natural History Museum for Alec’s paper,
The Pall Mall Gazette, when a grim discovery is made. The
body of an important employee has been found dead and mutilated
in the basement, and a trio of cannibals brought over for
a live exhibition have vanished. Also on the loose is a madman
who tried to assassinate the queen. When Alec discovers that
several other important men have been similarly killed, it
is time to investigate. Especially as the police aren’t
doing a very good job, and mysteriously, all the violent murders
have been recorded as “natural causes”.
Beaufort is the pen name of Susanna Gregory and another writer,
so if you are familiar with their books you will know what
to expect: lots of murders, madcap characters and events,
plenty of action and humor and a fun read. This book delivers
all of that, with Alec and Hulda investigating an increasing
number of deaths while on the trail of both the cannibals
and the escaped lunatic. Then there are the Watchers, a sinister
organization that has something huge planned for Christmas
Eve and appears to be run by people calling themselves “Grim
Many of the characters were real people, although presumably
they were not quite as larger than life as depicted here.
This is not a short book, but there is a lot in it, so when
I had finished it, I felt I had been on quite an adventure.
The series characters are developing nicely, and there are
some revelations that I did not see coming. I will be reading
the next book in the series, and anybody who likes an amusing
romp will enjoy this series.