First Sentence: It is a truth universally acknowledged, at least among private enquiry agents, that the most momentous of cases, the real corkers, begin on the blandest, most ordinary of days.
Cyrus Barker has a long history with Sebastian Nightwine going all the way back to their years in China. Was Nightwine responsible for the death of Barker’s brother? Yet now, years later, not only is Nightwine coming to London, he has received immunity from the British government and is about to do a major deal with him. Nightwine recognized Barker will try to stop him and, in turn, is determined to destroy Barker. The two are locked in a desperate game of wits and violence; Barker with his assistant Thomas Llewelyn at his side and Nightwine with an unanticipated ally. Will anyone survive?
There is a wonderful sense of time and place from food, to clothes, to technology to the city of London itself. Even without introduction, the voice of the narrator and the wry humor is so engaging--The Gov’s brows furrowed. “You’ve been hired to protect someone from me?” “You’ve been known to take a man apart like a watch.” Barker considered this. “Not unless he deserved it.”--one is immediately captivated. The case which is presented to Barker is unexpected and compelling.
Cyrus Barker is a fascinating character; a man of many skills and particular tastes. We learn a good deal about his childhood and understand that much of what made him as he is. Llewelyn, Barker’s assistant, has grown as a character. For those who have been following the series, an interesting change is that Llewelyn takes the lead in much of this story.
Particular credit goes to the author for his secondary characters. These are not cardboard figures but fully realized and developed characters. Because of that, the reader becomes much more invested in the story and events.
Thomas skillfully inserts actual historical figures into the story but only in ways which would fit with their real lives. He also educates us on a number of interesting subjects; including the use of ricin, information on the Knights Templar, Knights Hospitaller and the Freemasons; and the creation of the ambulance service. Rather than ever slowing the story down, the information serves to weaves the story together. Some authors are so good you want to read sentences or passages aloud to someone else. Will Thomas is so good, you want to read the entire book aloud to someone else just to ensure they experience the same high quality of storytelling as did you.
“Fatal Enquiry is excellent on every level. In addition to those qualities already mentions, it has a cleverly constructed, gripping plot with excellent suspense, and a wonderful “Ah-ha!” moment. It’s hard to wait for the next book in this marvelous series.
FATAL ENQUIRY (Hist Mys-Barker/Llewelyn-London-Victorian) – Ex
Minotaur Books, 2014