I know I was going to read Oates’s Bellefleur and Cantero’s The Supernatural Enhancements, but I didn’t do that. Instead, I read a book about fear and how the media influences us to be mortally afraid of things we shouldn’t be afraid of (The Science of Fear by Daniel Gardner), and then I started re-reading part of the Barker and Llewellyn mystery series by Will Thomas.
I found this series quite by chance, just after the second book had come out. I was wandering around the library and the cover art caught my eye, so I picked it up, read the synopsis, and decided to give it a shot. Well, partway through I realized that it was the second book in the series so I tracked down the first book and have been hooked ever since.
I’ve read other Victorian-era mystery novels, but none of them have really sparked my interest. It seems they’re either cozy little stories about husbands and wives living their proper little lives while also solving grisly murders, or they’re about put-upon officers of Scotland Yard trying to do too much with too little, and neither of those have appealed to me.
Enter Barker and Llewellyn. Cyrus Barker is a private enquiry agent and Thomas Llewellyn is his assistant. They undertake their investigations in the underworld of 1880s London, encountering the Mafia, Chinese Triads, and a whole world of people and cultures trying to make places for themselves in proper old England. It’s a different take on the Victorian murder mystery imbued with interesting people and places, exacting (but not annoying) historical details, and plenty of humor.
I re-read this series one a year or so, and even though I know how the stories unfold, they’re still fun. The next book, Anatomy of Evil comes out May 12.
I’m also interested in reading Andrea Chapin’s The Tutor, a story that takes place during a relatively unknown period in Shakespeare’s life. The synopsis looked interesting, but we’ll see how it goes. I may not have time, given that I’m trying to get through The Black Hand and Fatal Enquiry before the next installment comes out.