A Christmas Carol Murder (A Dickens of a Crime #3) Heather Redmond. 2020. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]
First sentence: They hadn’t found the body yet. Old Sal was surely dead. Feathers had caught on candles, igniting the blaze. Maybe a yipping dog had some part in the fiery disaster. The marchioness’s advanced age had surely contributed to the fatal misadventure.
Premise/plot: A Christmas Carol Murder is the third book in Heather Redmond's mystery series starring Charles Dickens as an amateur detective. This one opens in December 1835; Dickens is engaged to be married but not yet married. Soon after the novel opens, a baby is thrust into Dickens' arms--the woman is claiming that the babe is Charles' son. The mother (the woman's sister) is dead--or so it's thought--in a recent fire. Dickens feels sorry for the poor looking baby who'll surely starve without some intervention and care. So Timothy, the baby, is taken back to London and given to some of Dickens' friends. (Characters from earlier books, I'm presuming.) A few days later--or maybe just the next day--Dickens is out Christmas caroling with his friends--including his fiancee--when a DEAD BODY falls from an upstairs window. Thus the caroling gang meets Emmanuel Screws and household. Screws and the dead man--a Mr. Harley--were business partners. Catherine, Charles' fiancee, feels that Mr. Screws though a bit cranky--okay a LOT cranky--is no murderer. Can Dickens solve the murder before another occurs???
My thoughts: I knew this was part of a series, but, I didn't realize it was the third. (The previous books are A Tale of Two Murders and Grave Expectations.) I liked it. I did. I know that I'm missing out on some of the characterization by starting with the third book. But it was easy enough to follow *this* story and focus on this mystery. Dickens is 'Boz' at this point--he's writing and publishing sketches of London life. He has not begun writing (proper) novels just yet. He's also a parliamentary reporter/journalist in this one. I know little enough about this period in Dickens' life so I'm not sure how historically accurate the books may be. (I'm assuming/presuming that a lot of liberties are being taken even if real names are used. I'm relatively sure his wife, for example, didn't get special thrills from coming across dead bodies and working up murder cases.)
© 2020 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews