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The Solitary House    by Lynn Shepherd order for
Solitary House
by Lynn Shepherd
Order:  USA  Can
Bantam, 2013 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Her novel Murder at Mansfield Park, which gave a suspense spin to the world of Jane Austen, was a smashing hit. Lynn Shepherd is back with another period mystery, this one set in London in 1850. The picture the author paints of the British metropolis would do Dickens proud as would many of the quirky characters whom she creates for this mystery.

The key investigative duo consists of Charles Maddox, a former Metropolitan detective fired for insubordination, and his great-uncle, who was once a brilliant detective but now the old man is not hitting on all cylinders.

In this investigation Charles has been hired to discover who has been sending threatening letters to a powerful businessman named Julius Cremorne. The private detective has been instructed to find the source of the letters and quietly deal with the person.

This seemingly straightforward assignment isn't as simple as it first appears. Of course, if it were, this would be a pretty boring book! Once he begins his investigation Charles realizes he'll need a little expert assistance (enter Great-Uncle Maddox). The circuitous path the case follows is one marred by senseless violence and foul deeds.

Those familiar with Dicken's Bleak House will realize Shepherd is definitely beholding to the great, Victorian author. There are moments when this tale trumps some of the creepy, nasty and disgusting things found in Dicken's novel, so beware. There may be sections of the book you'll want to skip over or skim quickly but, overall, I think you'll find this a satisfying and memorable read!

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