Constable - 2000
ISBN: 009480270X - Hardback

Reviewed by Rachel Hyde, MyShelf.Com
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Dr James Mortimer appears briefly in The Hound of The Baskervilles but here he is given free rein to try his own skills as a detective.  The year is 1890 and he has just lost his wife so life in Grimpen holds no joys for him.  It is at the insistence of his friend Dr Watson that he goes to stay with him and his wife in London and soon agrees to act as locum in a West End practice.  It is here that he makes the acquaintance of a most strange ménage in Aldate – why does Calcutta nabob Archibald Boynton-Leigh keep his beautiful ward Lavinia under lock and key?  Who is the debonair artist Jack Agar and what does he really want?  Finding doctoring the rich not to his taste Mortimer teams up with redoubtable female physician Violet Branscombe to assist her in her Whitechapel practice for poor folk and ends up having to solve a murder as the plot thickens.  To say more would spoil the story.

Clattering hansom cabs, anarchist cafes, Whitechapel, beautiful prisoners fluttering behind barred windows…its all here and the game is afoot for Drs Mortimer and Branscombe as they pit their wits against London’s seedy underworld in the best tradition of the ever popular Victorian whodunit.  Sometimes I wished for some new ingredient in such a familiar dish but Williams paces his book well and it kept me reading happily until the end and thoroughly entertained.  There is nothing original here and it wasn’t hard to guess what the secrets were but there is much to praise nonetheless.  As this seems to be the start of a series of novels I will certainly be looking out for the next one.

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