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31 May 2015

M. R. C. Kasasian's The Mangle Street Murders

Oh, how I loved The Mangle Street Murders! It's the beginning of the story of March Middleton and her guardian, personal detective Sidney Grice.  She's intelligent and thoughtful and spunky. He's intelligent and thoughtless and shrewd (or so he would have you believe ... although he has his moments where he's almost kind and caring). More than once I let out a snort or a hoot or even a sniffle. Audible reactions while reading are almost always good signs of an excellent read.

The story takes place in 1882 London. March has just arrived to live with Grice after the death of her father, a war doctor with whom she worked closely. Shortly after her arrival a woman arrives asking Grice to take on the case of proving her son-in-law, William Ashby, innocent of murdering his wife/her daughter. March becomes involved with the case -- offering to pay Grice's fees on the woman's behalf as she has no funds to do so. Grice is soon certain that Ashby is guilty but March isn't convinced and the two often butt heads over it (and other things -- his vegetarianism, her smoking and drinking, to name but a few). Grice and his colleagues at the police station and morgue are not used to having a strong-willed female around ... and March is not used to being seen as anything but.

She holds her own on several instances although privately there's something that eats away at her. A hint to what that may be occurs early on ... although even at the end of the book I hadn't pieced it all together.

This on-going side mystery for the reader was at the same time one of the highlights AND one of the most frustrating aspects of the book. JUST TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED, ALREADY!!!  Maybe the next in the series will elaborate. Other things I wish for for the series? Grice to get an eye that actually fits. Harriet Fitzpatrick to appear often. Inspector Pound to make a move.

Of course, I have to get through my 20 Books of Summer before I can find out if any of these wishes come true ...

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