Thursday, April 11, 2019

Death at Hungerford Stairs

Death at Hungerford Stairs. (Charles Dickens & Superintendent Sam Jones #2) J.C. Briggs. 2018. Sapere Books.  290 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Charles Dickens remembered the rats.

Premise/plot: Death at Hungerford Stairs is the second novel in J.C. Briggs' mystery series starring Charles Dickens. Dickens is an amateur detective (of sorts) assisting the police--namely Superintendent Sam Jones. Dickens and Jones are on the hunt for a serial killer--someone is targeting young boys. Can these two figure out WHO and WHY? How many boys will have to die as they piece together all the clues and track down suspects?

My thoughts: I loved, loved, loved the first book in the series The Murder of Patience Brooke. I loved the characterization and the writing. Did I love, love, love Death at Hungerford Stairs? Yes and no. No, I didn't love, love, love to the same degree. Yes, I still loved the characters and the writing. This one is "packed" with murders, but dare I say it's not an action-driven mystery novel?! I think this one is--for better or worse--a character-driven mystery novel. To me the mysteries are definitely secondary to the characters themselves. Because I have grown attached the characters--and many of the characters introduced in the first book are still around--I am attached to the book. I have to keep reading this series. I have to stay in touch with these characters. I want more, more, more.

Murder was composed of secrets just as any three volume novel. Secrets were the staple of the novelist; they provided the mystery, suspense, and tension. In murder, the identity of the protagonist was secret, the characters in the story--for murder was itself a terrible story--possessed secrets, sometimes harmless ones, sometimes ones that were the key to the mystery, and it was the investigators who must uncover those secrets, and, this was dreadful, too; they must lay bare the lives of all enmeshed in the net of the murderer's making.
Speculation is the thief of time as much as procrastination so let's collar them both.
The omniscient narrator could place his characters where he would. The murderer would be caught, the criminal brought to justice. He had put Fagin in the condemned cell in Newgate; Sikes in a terrible irony had been hanged by his own rope as he attempted to escape. The missing would be found, restitution made and lovers could be united. But life, ah, life.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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