Firstly I hope you all had a lovely Christmas! I didn’t get much time to read really but did finish the following 2 books which I really enjoyed and wanted to review for you!
The Mangle Street Murders & The Curse of the House of Foskett by M.R.C Kasasian
Both books seem to be set at the end of the 19th century and follow Sidney Grice, a personal (not private!) detective living and working in grimy Victorian London. He takes in fiery March Middleton, the daughter of someone he knew (though he doesn’t say much about this) and she ends up assisting him whilst he solves crimes! For a more in-depth synopsis check out both books on GoodReads!
Both plots are quick, clever and fast moving but not overly complicated in my opinion, though at some points I did have to stop and try to work out or remember who was who with the second novel. However the dry humour doesn’t mask the often gruesome, unnerving bits included in both novels.
It’s really the brilliant, richly layered characters that make this book so enjoyable. Sidney Grice is actually a rather dislikable character and can be very rude and cruel to the protagonist March (and pretty much everyone else!), but he is sharp and witty and quite amusing at times so I warmed to him a surprising amount. March can be just as quick witted and scathing at times and is also very sarcastic, and hers and Sidney’s dry humour bounce off one another in a brilliant way. I also love that March is not your typical female protagonist; she doesn’t care about seeming like a ‘proper’ lady and is keen to assist Sidney in his investigations despite many of the characters seeming surprised- and often downright dismissive- of her coming along to crime scenes and post mortems, etc. other characters often comment that she is not particularly attractive, which is quite refreshing as books always seem to paint female characters as beautiful or “beautiful in a certain way that they don’t realise” and this made a change from that- why should it matter whether she’s ‘beautiful’ or not when it comes to detective work? Male characters’ looks don’t seem as important so why should hers?!
I found March’s sharp responses to many characters very amusing and she’s probably one of my favourite female protagonists that I’ve read this year! She also smokes and drinks copious amounts of gin and really doesn’t seem to care, to Grice’s disgust!
The first novel is quite short at only 257 pages (Ebook) whilst the second novel is considerably longer at 357 pages and as a result of this the storyline of The Curse of the House of Foskett is quite a bit more complicated. It is definitely advisable reading these in order as, although they focus on a different murder, elements from the first cross into the second and March reveals more about her personal life as a continuation from the first novel.
There are also a few amusing references to medical or forensic developments that are yet to happen, due to the novel being set at the end of the 1800’s, and one point where i is strongly suggested that Sidney Grice is the inspiration for Dr Watson to write the Sherlock Holmes novels which was quite a nice touch!
I would strongly recommend these books to anyone who enjoys the classic detective story with a fresh, humorous twist! I’m looking forward to the third novel in the series already, though there seems to be no sign at this point of a release date!
Rating: The Mangle Street Murders- 3.5/5
The Curse of the House of Foskett- 4/5