In this clever reimagining of Charles Dickens’s life, he and fiancée Kate Hogarth must solve the murder of a spinster wearing a wedding gown . . .
London, June 1835: In the interest of being a good neighbor, Charles checks in on Miss Haverstock, the elderly spinster who resides in the flat above his. But as the young journalist and his fiancée Kate ascend the stairs, they are assaulted by the unmistakable smell of death. Upon entering the woman’s quarters, they find her decomposing corpse propped up, adorned in a faded gown that looks like it could have been her wedding dress, had she been married. A murderer has set the stage. But to what purpose?
As news of an escaped convict from Coldbath Fields reaches the couple, Charles reasonably expects the prisoner, Ned Blood, may be responsible. But Kate suspects more personal motives, given the time and effort in dressing the victim. When a local blacksmith is found with cut manacles in his shop and arrested, his distraught wife begs Charles and Kate to help. At the inquest, they are surprised to meet Miss Haverstock’s cold and haughty foster daughter, shadowed by her miserably besotted companion. Secrets shrouded by the old woman’s past may hold the answers to this web of mystery. But Charles and Kate will have to risk their lives to unveil the truth . . .
Set in London in the summer of 1835, Redmond's appealing sequel to 2018's A Tale of Two Murders finds journalist Charles Dickens looking forward to his wedding to Kate Hogarth. Realizing that he has not seen his upstairs neighbor, Miss Haverstock, in several days, Charles takes Kate for a visit. In her rooms, the couple discover the elderly spinster murdered. Two convicts have recently escaped from a nearby prison, and the neighborhood has suffered a rash of burglaries, leading Charles to suspect a fairly routine crime. Kate insists that the staging of the body Miss Haverstock is wearing a yellowed wedding gown and a corkscrew is buried in her neck indicates a complex personal motive instead. The investigation the pair pursue is slow to gather momentum, and the author's efforts to integrate elements of Great Expectations into the story can feel forced. Yet Redmond effectively captures the young Charles's ebullient energy, the warmth of his circle, and the color of a fast-changing era. Readers will look forward to Charles's further adventures.