Friday, January 11, 2019
The Murder of Patience Brooke
First sentence: Thrown on the wide world, doom'd to wander and roam, Bereft of my parents, bereft of my home.
Premise/plot: The Murder of Patience Brooke is the first in a new mystery series starring Charles Dickens. Dickens is working with police detective, Sam Jones. The case is personal--the murder victim, Patience Brooke, lived at Urania Cottage, a sanctuary for fallen women that Charles Dickens helps support. Not that Patience Brooke was a fallen woman, she was a woman of many, many secrets but much learning.
This one is set in Victorian London in 1849. (When Charles Dickens IS NOT on the case following leads, he is at work on a new novel, David Copperfield.)
My thoughts: I loved, loved, LOVED this one. J.C. Briggs does two things well in this one: world building and characterization.
The setting is wonderful--gritty but wonderful. It really showcases the plight of the poor--and seemingly invisible--and the plight of women. Dickens advocates for both. Briggs' Dickens advocates for both in this fictional novel, and Dickens' fiction speaks for itself in my opinion.
But the setting would not be enough to carry the story if it didn't feel peopled. Briggs does a FANTASTIC job with her characters. Not just with the main characters, Charles and Sam, but with ALL the characters. And yes, I do mean ALL. It doesn't matter if we spend a hundred pages with a character or just half a page--all feel fleshed out and human. Briggs had me caring.
I also have to say that I enjoyed the writing. That almost goes without saying since you can't have characterization without writing. But. It is worth mentioning. The story was well-paced and compelling. And compelling not because it was a plot-driven thriller--those have their place perhaps--but because you CARED about the characters and wanted to spend as much time with them as possible.
© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews