Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Angel by M.J. Trow

First Sentence:  It wasn’t often James Batchelor had the house to himself, but just sometimes he could persuade Matthew Grand that the Muse must take precedence over finding lost dogs and other footling pursuits.
Private enquiry agents, Matthew Grand, a former Union Calvary officer, and former British journalist James Batchelor, are approached by well-known journalist George Sala who wishes to employ them.  Author Charles Dickens has died of an alleged stroke.  Sala believes he was murdered.  Is he right?

It is not often one finds oneself chuckling through the beginning of an historical mystery.  Yet the housekeeper of Batchelor, whose recent weight gain is expressed in stones, and Grand, with his weight gain conveyed in pounds, prompts just that reaction—‘He’s a bit…Blobby.’ ‘Mrs Rackstraw! That’s not a polite way to describe our guests.’ ‘No, but you wanted to know…’ 
Trow’s use of language is such a pleasure to read—“…Frederick Chapman came in. No one knew of Emmeline Jone’s passion, except perhaps the post boy; all of the editors, sub- and copy-; the woman who ‘did’ and brought their tea; and Mrs. Chapman, who found it all rather hilarious.”—as well as his inclusion of historic individuals in realistic roles.  And, again, this use of humor makes this delightful to read.
The plot continually builds with the addition of other deaths which keeps the mystery going.  However, it is attention to the social issues of the period which significantly adds to one's interest.  Very Dickens.
The Angel” is an unexpected and delightful tale with twists, turns and intriguing suppositions over the death of Charles Dickens. 

THE ANGEL (Hist Mys-Grant/Batchelor-England-1870) – G+
      Trow, M.J. – 4th in series
      Severn House, Nov 2016

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