A tale of modern love and “genuinely puzzling historical murder mystery” combine in this “fresh and clever and very funny” novel (The Guardian, UK).
Oxford graduate student Kitt Farr has always been most at home in the Old Bodleian Library, but even she needs a break from her research into Victorian Era violence. Taking a dance class seems like a bit of a stretch—until she meets a cute classmate, mysterious math lecturer Joe Leppard. Then, as Kitt and Joe find a budding romance between them, Kitt finds something sinister in the stacks: an unsolved murder in 1838 with an unsettling connection to the young Charles Dickens.
Half a century before Jack the Ripper, a London prostitute known as The Countess was murdered in a way that eerily mirrors the events in Oliver Twist. Now Kitt and Joe are out to uncover how Dickens became tangled up with this horrendous crime.
“Gowers’s writing is absolutely beautiful.”—The Times, UK
The gifts Gowers displayed in her true crime book, The Swamp of Death, aren't evident in this middling novel, which reads more like a lesser version of A.S. Byatt's Possession than Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time, the book's inspiration, according to the author's postscript. Kit Farr, a present-day Oxford graduate student, stumbles on reports of a real-life murder case the unsolved butchery of Eliza Grimwood, a London prostitute, in 1838, a half-century before the Ripper crimes. Kit, who believes the killing may have been inspired by Bill Sikes's murder of Nancy in Dickens's Oliver Twist, enlists a new love-interest, mathematics lecturer Joe Leppard, in her researches. but the Grimwood case takes a backseat to Kit and Joe's budding relationship. That Kit makes a major mistake in her thesis doesn't reinforce her credentials as a sleuth. Romance readers will be more satisfied than mystery fans.