I thought it was dreadful - bad writing, unappealing characters; I applied the 50-page rule (if it can't retain my interest for 50 pages I don't waste any more time on it). It didn't pass. PBS recommends it if you like Kate Ross - don't be fooled!
Both detective fiction and English history. I learned a lot about London before an official police force was created and the role of the law courts in tracking down criminals. I'll be reading more in this series.
The first in a new series called "Memoirs of a Bow Street Runner," this well-executed historical draws readers back into the London of the early 19th century, when hackney coaches fought for space with brewery carts, horse-drawn chaises, peddlers' wagons, and milling throngs on the city's rough-and-tumble streets.
Banks has created a living, breathing landscape peopled with such characters as Bow Street constable Henry Morton and his intimate acquaintance, actress Arabella Malibrant, along with Chief Bow Street Magistrate Sir Nathaniel Conant, all of whom one will be delighted to encounter again.
When we first meet the large, lean Morton, with his "dark and inquisitive" eyes, the independent-minded officer of the law has been summoned from the boxing ring, where he regularly takes evening exercise, to the Portman Square townhouse of Mrs. Malibrant. There a rich young gentleman in an unfortunate condition (he is dead!) has arrived in a hackney, the driver of which has disappeared into the gloom of night.
Apparently the corpse had been alive enough that very morning to participate in a duel, but he has not succumbed to any wounds sustained in that battle. Upon seeing the body, as Arabella reports to Morton, one of her dinner guests, a Miss Louisa Hamilton, nearly fell over prostrate with grief.
"If you had heard poor Miss Hamilton cry out, Henry, you would have done anything to ease her pain. I tell you, it was wrenching. I could never duplicate it." She pitched her voice low and tried anyway. "'Oh, Richard, Richard...'"
"Very touching, I'm sure," Morton said. "There is only one problem...."
Arabella raised one perfect eyebrow.
"His name was not Richard."
Not all mystery fans enjoy the historical subgenre, while others read nothing else. This book is entertaining enough to appeal to either group, with T.F. Banks possessing the confidence and light touch of an outstanding new talent. --Otto Penzler
I have read other authors refer to corruption of Bow Street Runners, Banks is the first to address the corruption. Interesting to learn how the British police force operated in its early stages. The corruption still exists through history in all countries.