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Thursday 11 August 2016

'Against the Light' by Marjorie Eccles

Published by Severn House
31 May 2016.
ISBN 978-0-7278-8622-4

Immediately this book begins the reader is taken straight into that fascinating era just before the 1914 war.  The waning Edwardian era we might call it, though the ephemeral nature of their world was not clear to those who lived through it.  In the London of 1912 government minister Edmund Latimer is embroiled in the efforts to put the Irish Home Rule bill through Parliament.  He is preoccupied with his own activities as those in his household pursue theirs.  His household comprises his wife, Alice, who works as a doctor in a free clinic in Spitalfields and his married sister, Violet, her husband and their seven month old baby, Lucy.  They are looked after by several servants with Violet, in the upper class habit of the day, experiencing the company of her baby for very limited periods of the day.

All is upset when the baby, Lucy, is kidnapped.   Gradually Alice appreciates that her knowledge of her husband's proclivities is extremely limited.   Meanwhile detective Inspector Gaines and detective sergeant Inskip are trying to identify a man found stabbed in a cab.  They are also the police detectives sent to investigate the kidnapping so they are forced to pursue these two cases in tandem.

I enjoyed the contrasting settings of the book - from the comfort of Manessa House, near Hyde Park to the slum conditions of the East End.   The complex hierarchical society of the period with the stark contrasts between Haves and Have-nots is also clearly illustrated.  The story is carefully woven around believable characters and reaches a somewhat surprising climax.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer
Marjorie is a very experienced writer - she has written the modern Inspector Mayo series and a number of historical crime books.

Marjorie Eccles was born in Yorkshire and spent much of her childhood there and on the Northumbrian coast. The author of more than twenty books and short stories, she is the recipient of the Agatha Christie Short Story Styles Award. Her books featuring police detective Gil Mayo were adapted for the BBC. She lives in Hertfordshire.

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

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