This book seems to have won grand reviews all over. I hope you believe them so that you will order my copy. But in all honesty...the character development is just plain awful. Everyone is a caricature of Old England except for the hero -- an entirely modern creature who so admiringly fights sexism, racism, imperialism, oppression and bad taste or anything else that offends our sensibilities. And the "dense" and "challenging" mystery can be solved from a mile away as soon as the author lets the clues drop. Avoid the hype, save your credit for something else.
The story is set in the English coal producing town of Wegan in the 1870's. It starts out with a British engineer who longs to return to Africa and to his little daughter. But first he must solve a mystery of the disappearance of the fiance of the Bishops daughter in order to earn the money for his passage.
One of the interesting aspects of this tale is the view of the class structure during the Victorian period and the insights into British culture. This book is charming and suspenseful and will keep you guessing until the very end.