The Sans Pareil Mystery
by Karen Charlton
Paperback: 322 pages
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Released: October 6, 2015
Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.
Book Description from Goodreads:
On a cold February night in Regency London, a dark curtain falls on the Sans Pareil Theatre following the death of April Clare, a promising young actress, whose body is found in mysterious circumstances. Detective Stephen Lavender and his dependable deputy, Constable Woods, quickly discover that nothing is quite as it seems. As successive mysteries unfold, they soon realize that it is not only the actors from the Sans Pareil who are playing a part.
With the Napoleonic War looming dangerously across the Channel, this is a time of suspicion and treachery. Following the clues from the seedy back streets of Covent Garden up through the echelons of society, Lavender and Woods begin to fear that the case is much bigger than they’d dared imagine.
The Sans Pareil Mystery is a mystery/suspense novel set in February 1810 in London. It's the second book in a series, but you don't need to read the first to understand this one. Some events from the first novel are spoiled, but not the mystery.
The characters were interesting and had realistic reactions to events. It was a clue-based mystery. Lavender came across as suitably clever, though I was able to solve the mysteries before he did. After Lavender solved the murder of the actress, the story turned into a suspense/thriller. The suspense came from physical danger and relationship tensions (as Lavender's choice of bride wasn't well accepted).
The politics and people of 1810 were a strong part of this story, and the historical details made the story feel unique to that time period. Yet the author sometimes chose not to stay strictly with historical facts. For example, Lavender used "Detective" as his title, but the word wasn't invented for another twenty to thirty years. The main focus of the Bow Street Runners was to capture known criminals and prevent crime, but this story makes it sound more like a modern police force. The pistols of the time were large, required loading right before use, and were prone to accidental firing and misfiring...none of which you'd guess from this story. But most people won't notice or care about the historical details she changed.
There was a fair amount of bad language. There were no sex scenes. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable novel.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.