Tuesday, 9 August 2016

The Mangle Street Murders (The Gower Street Detective #1): M.R.C. Kasasian review

The Mangle Street Murders (The Gower Street Detective #1)

Rating: 3.5 Star

In the Mangle Street Murders, we are thrown into a dirty, horse-filled, smoky, and crime-ridden 1882 London and the unlikely duo of Sidney Grice, (London's most famous detective) and March Middleton (who has the dubious pleasure of having Grice as her legal guardian).

Shortly after March's arrival in London after the unfortunate death of her father, the newly formed crime fighting duo begin their first joint case (after a lot of protesting from Grice).

A husband has been accused of brutally murdering his wife and the victim's mother hires Grice and March to prove him innocent.

Grice is well-known throughout London for his less than endearing character. He is rude to everyone, is mostly focused solving crimes for profit rather than any need to do 'good deeds'. He does, however, demonstrate amazing powers of deduction and is constantly looking for clues and hints that many may perhaps miss. We learn early in the book that he has helped the London police to prosecute many murderers in his time.

March is a polar opposite to Grice, making this a great combination of characters. She is warm, determined, and his equal in investigative powers. March also has the constant uphill struggle of dealing with the sexist attitudes of men to women back in 1882 who are constantly trying to correct her, demean her, or speak on her behalf.

The first in a series of Gower Street Detective novels, The Mangle Street Murders moves along at a quick pace. Whilst Grice and March are still trying to work out how to work together, there are more murders, and very quickly the seemingly simple case becomes more complex.

As many other reviewers have noted, Grice is not a nice character. However, if you take him as a caricature of the age or a serious point by Kasasian on what attitudes were like back then it is easier to get through the book.

Towards the end of the story, Grice and March are beginning to work together more effectively but it will likely take several more stories before they are a perfect team.

I enjoyed the Mangle Street Murders and would read another one in the series, just to see if March manages to improve Grice's attitude.