'The year is 1759 and London is shrouded in a cloak of fear. With the constables at the mercy of highwaymen, it’s a perilous time to work the already dangerous streets of Soho. Lizzie Hardwicke makes her living as a prostitute, somewhat protected from the fray as one of Mrs Farley’s girls. But then one of her wealthy customers is found brutally murdered… and Lizzie was the last person to see him alive. Constable William Davenport has no hard evidence against Lizzie but his presence and questions make life increasingly difficult. Desperate to be rid of him and prove her innocence Lizzie turns amateur detective, determined to find the true killer, whatever the cost. Yet as the body count rises Lizzie realises that, just like her, everyone has a secret they will do almost anything to keep buried…'
I have to admit I am a big fan of historical mystery having recently read the ‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’ series by Kerri Maniscalco, I was definitely looking for the next murder mystery style novel. Set in the depravity of 1759 London, Lizzie is the protagonist of a new page-turning read. Almost a familiar heroine reminiscent of another famous Lizzie (Bennett) you can’t help but like. Lizzie’s efficient crime-solving and witty sense of words has you gripped and fascinated until the final page. A prostitute who’s last client ends up dead, observant and determined Lizzie feels she has no choice but to figure out why and so the mystery unfolds. Once you start Georgina Clarke’s elegantly written and well-paced novel you’ll want to delve into the next instalment. In particular I enjoyed the fact that Lizzie starts off as an often over-looked and not mainstream voice for a protagonist to be - she’s a prostitute - but Clarke has shown that a woman can be more than one specific thing in a positive way, to put a feminist spin on things, sex work is often deemed a ‘lesser’ job and frowned upon, well Lizzie is the protagonist of her own story and proves to be the heroine we all want to root for.
I wholeheartedly loved this book, capturing the sights and smells and the brutality and raw seediness of London in this time period, it’s atmospheric and full of detail that makes the whole novel spark with authenticity. Everyone who loves that era of history, with well-written and Independent main characters is sure to enjoy this new novel. I sometimes find books written in this era to be hard-going, but with the nifty plot details and the pacing of the novel it was a joy to read, and you can tell that Clarke has thought about who’s story she is trying to portray and how. It is written in 21st Century style, but I think this was the correct choice, although it modernises the story, this makes it more relatable as oppose to it being completely historically accurate.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I am glad I had the opportunity to read it through Canelo publishing. I am sure to now source out books that are similar, so if you have any recommendations let me know. This is a fantastic debut novel, that I have no doubt will do well, and I urge everyone to give it a read! Fingers crossed that Georgina is already writing the next one in a series!