Under a Veiled Moon
In the tradition of C. S. Harris and Anne Perry, a fatal disaster on the Thames and a roiling political conflict set the stage for Karen Odden’s second Inspector Corravan historical mystery.
September 1878. One night, as the pleasure boat the Princess Alice makes her daily trip up the Thames, she collides with the Bywell Castle, a huge iron-hulled collier. The Princess Alice shears apart, throwing all 600 passengers into the river; only 130 survive. It is the worst maritime disaster London has ever seen, and early clues point to sabotage by the Irish Republican Brotherhood, who believe violence is the path to restoring Irish Home Rule.
For Scotland Yard Inspector Michael Corravan, born in Ireland and adopted by the Irish Doyle family, the case presents a challenge. Accused by the Home Office of willfully disregarding the obvious conclusion, and berated by his Irish friends for bowing to prejudice, Corravan doggedly pursues the truth, knowing that if the Princess Alice disaster is pinned on the IRB, hopes for Home Rule could be dashed forever.
Corrovan’s dilemma is compounded by Colin, the youngest Doyle, who has joined James McCabe’s Irish gang. As violence in Whitechapel rises, Corravan strikes a deal with McCabe to get Colin out of harm’s way. But unbeknownst to Corravan, Colin bears longstanding resentments against his adopted brother and scorns his help.
As the newspapers link the IRB to further accidents, London threatens to devolve into terror and chaos. With the help of his young colleague, the loyal Mr. Stiles, and his friend Belinda Gale, Corravan uncovers the harrowing truth—one that will shake his faith in his countrymen, the law, and himself.
The real-life 1878 collision on the Thames of the Princess Alice, a pleasure steamer, with the much larger and heavier Bywell Castle, a cargo ship, propels Odden's exceptional sequel to 2021's Down a Dark River. More than 500 people died in the crash, mostly passengers on the steamer. The Commissioner of Wrecks takes charge of raising the sunken Princess Alice and determining the cause of the accident. Meanwhile, the head of the Wapping River Police asks Michael Corravan, who has overcome a troubled past to rise to the rank of acting superintendent, to ascertain whether the disaster was deliberately caused, possibly by the Irish Republican Brotherhood, a group that recently dynamited a rail line. Corravan's conclusions could affect nascent discussions of granting Ireland home rule. Born in Ireland and adopted by an Irish family, Corravan has a personal stake in the inquiry's outcome. Odden never strikes a false note, and she combines a sympathetic lead with a twisty plot grounded in the British politics of the day and peopled with fully fleshed-out characters. Fans of Lyndsay Faye's Gods of Gotham trilogy will be enthralled. Agent: Josh Getzler, HG Literary.
Excellent plot, plenty of twist. Cannot wait to see Corravan again soon.