Some Danger Involved
Victorian Era Mystery
Rating 5 stars
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An atmospheric debut novel set on the gritty streets of Victorian London, Some Danger Involved introduces detective Cyrus Barker and his apprentice, Thomas Llewelyn, as they work to solve the gruesome murder of a young scholar.
When a student bearing a striking resemblance to artists' renderings of Jesus Christ is found murdered -- by crucifixion -- in London's Jewish ghetto, 19th-century private detective Barker must hire an assistant to help him solve the sinister case. Out of all who answer an ad for a position with "some danger involved," the eccentric and enigmatic Barker chooses downtrodden Llewelyn, a gutsy young man whose murky past includes recent stints at both an Oxford college and an Oxford prison.
As Llewelyn learns the ropes of his position, he is drawn deeper and deeper into Barker's peculiar world of vigilante detective work, as well as the dark heart of London's teeming underworld. Together they pass through chophouses, stables, and clandestine tea rooms, tangling with the early Italian mafia, a mad professor of eugenics, and other shadowy figures, inching ever closer to the shocking truth behind the murder.
Some Danger Involved is a refreshing change from your typical Victorian mystery, the majority of which feature either a female sleuth or a "Gentleman" sleuth. Some Danger Involved is told from the perspective of Thomas Llewelyn-a young Welsh man down on his luck and desperately searching for a new position. Thomas answers an ad for a private detectives assistant almost on a lark, certain he will not get the position. Surprisingly, the enigmatic Cyrus Barker gives him the job. There begins Thomas education into private detection as well as his first case with Mr. Barker-the heinous death of a young Jewish Scholar whose body is put on display by his killer.
Barker and Llewelyn are both products of middle to poor homes, both have hidden talents that help in their detective work. The book has a bit of an Oriental flair from Barker growing up in the Orient with his Missonary parents. The cast of characters is well fleshed out and the story fast paced as well as intelligent in detail, especially in relation to Victorian Jewish society and how it was looked at during this era.
Barker is a great sleuth, kind of a "poor mans" Sherlock Holmes, as much as a Genius as that great man but much more empathetic and street wise from his rough childhood. Llewelyn is a wonderful sidekick to Barker, who's more of a father figure or mentor to him than Sherlock's friendship with Watson.
To those who love Victoriana but are looking for something a bit grittier, Some Danger Involved may fit the bill.