The Detective and the Devil

Written by Lloyd Shepherd

Review written by Adam Colclough

Adam Colclough lives and works in the West Midlands, he writes regularly for a number of websites, one day he will get round to writing a book for someone else to review.


The Detective and the Devil
Simon and Schuster
RRP: £7.99
Released: April 21 2016
PBK

London 1815, Constable Horton is called to the scene of the murder of a clerk and his family in the East End. This is the start of an investigation that will draw him into the secretive world of the East India Company and the lengths it will go to secure its fortunes. Along the way he will encounter the mystical theories of John Dee and travel to the remote island of St Helena to face a killer who might just be the devil himself.

In this his fourth historical crime novel Lloyd Shepherd alchemy, mysticism and the commercial chicanery of the East India Company against a brilliantly realised early nineteenth century background. His London is a place in transition from being a city of narrow alleys along a river to the capital of an imperial power, it is also every bit as mean as its modern incarnation.

The wider world inhabited by his characters is changing too, the old superstition built around belief in magic is giving way to a newer one based on the magic of money; both, as he shows, can licence the ruthless to kill in order to gain wealth and power.

Lloyd Shepherd writes about this harsh world in a lucid and entirely believable way, helped by a sensibility for the grime and struggle of life in the horse drawn world. He cleverly mixes in allusions to notorious figures and events of the the time, these include the exile of Napoleon and the Ratcliffe Highway murders, the outrage than gave Britain a taste for true crime that endures today.

This is historical crime fiction at its very best; a book that thrills and excites its readers by taking them into a world that is at once vastly different from and strangely similar to our own. 

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