Monday, April 24, 2017

A Mystery at Carlton House by Ashley Gardner

First Sentence:  “Sir.” A hand shook me as I dozed fitfully in a chair.
      
Captain Lacey’s friend Lord Grenville is asked by the Prince Regent to investigate the disappearance of valuable small art items from Carlton.  A Bow Street Runner has arrested someone and wants Captain Lacey to help him prove his case, or he’ll arrest Lacey.  Lacey doesn’t believe they’ve arrested the right man and suspects crime lord James Denis is somehow involved.  Can Lacey and Grenville find the real culprit?
      
There is a wonderful juxtaposition at the opening which informs us of the protagonist’s past and present.  It also provides readers with a look at the mettle of the man.
      
The details on the proprietaries involved in Regency daily life are fascinating and a true indication of the period.  The focus on attire, down to the type of knot in a man’s cravat, is a study in the outward indications of one’s position and status.  But this is no book of etiquette.  The contrast to life in the slums of St. Giles gives the story depth as one is quickly moved into danger and action. 
      
Gardner has created a wonderful ensemble of characters, each of which is fully developed and important in their own right.  They are characters with whom we become involved, and about whom we want to know more.
      
The story is fast moving and compelling, to the point where this reviewer was so involved, no more notes were made; a bit embarrassing to admit, but a higher compliment to the author I can't imagine. 
     
 “A Mystery at Carlton House” is a really good read.  Gardner captures the period, and the diversity of characters keeps readers coming back for more.

A MYSTERY AT CARLTON HOUSE (Hist Mys-Captain Lacey-London-1818-19/Regency) – G+
      Gardner, Ashley – 12th in series
      JA/AG Publishing – March, 2017

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