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Thursday 17 November 2016

‘Murder by Ghostlight' by J. C. Briggs

Published by The History Press,
5 October 2016.
ISBN: 978-0-7509-6980-2

The third adventure of Charles Dickens and his friend Metropolitan Police Superintendent Jones begins in Manchester.  As always Jean Briggs really gives us the voice of Charles Dickens - in this case he is making a visit to Manchester to perform in a play and then returns to London.

Dickens himself discovers the body of one of the actors in the theatre in Spring Bank and is therefore a serious suspect as the killer.  Dickens and Jones move around the city and the northern suburbs giving a clear picture of the horrors of Mancunian conditions of dirt and poverty.  The relationship between the two is one of good friends and the reader is reminded of the real life walks in London taken by Charles and Inspector Field.

The body count mounts and the mystery gets murkier before and after the two protagonists return to London.  Lost and poverty stricken children play a part as do women looking for love.  The wealth of language that Dickens possessed is shown here with particular reference to the quirky names that Dickens so enjoyed.

This is another enjoyable book from J. C. Briggs with its fascinating characters, real and imagined, its intricate mystery and its evocation of Victorian London and Manchester.
Rviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer 
The first book in the series was The Murder of Patience Brooke.

J. C. Briggs taught English for many years in schools in Cheshire, Hong Kong and Lancashire. She now lives in a cottage in Cumbria with her husband who is an artist.  The Murder of Patience Brooke, featuring Charles Dickens as a detective is the first in a proposed series in which Dickens and Superintendent Jones of Bow Street investigate some dark deeds. The idea of Dickens as a detective came about when she read Dickens’s articles about the London police in his periodical Household Words. Dickens was fascinated by police investigation and by murder, in particular – there are plenty of murderers in his writing, and Dickens is credited with the creation of the first literary detective in Inspector Bucket who solves the murder of Mr Tulkinghorn in Bleak House.

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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