I had been saving this book (of which I received a free copy in return for an honest review) for when I had to time to savour it, because I expected from having read Susan Grossey’s first novel that I would really enjoy it, and I was right.
Regency police constable Sam Plank, so well established in the first book, continues to develop here, with an interesting back-story emerging about his boyhood, which shapes his attitude to crime as an adult. His sweet and kindly wife Martha continues to be Holmes to his Watson, from the comfort of her kitchen, where she is forever cooking stews and pies to fortify Sam and his new sidekick, the young constable William Wilson.
Not Whodunnit, but Why
Like the first book, this is not so much a whodunnit but a whydunnit, and Grossey skilfully unfolds a complex tale of financial crime and corruption. However, although the laws in those days were radically different – fraud was punishable by death, for example – there are lots of parallels that leap off the page, in particular with pyramid selling schemes and get-rich-quick schemes that abound in the 21st century. (Grossey’s day-job is writing non-fiction books about money-laundering.)
Compassion in a Harsher Age
Another feature that really lifts this series for me is the underlying compassion and humanity of Constable and Mrs Plank and other characters. A Quaker banker in this book gives interesting insights into how he and his fellow Quakers influenced 19th century industry. There are also lots of fascinating details about daily life in the criminal world, including how the jail system worked, woven into the story and leaving the reader much more knowledgeable without feeling that he’s had a history lesson.
The Icing on the Book Cover
Finally, I must say how much I love the distinctive design and branding of the Sam Plank series – the interior of the book conjures up the era almost as well as the beautiful cover, and the books look very well on my bookshelf. I’m looking forward to adding more to the collection in time!
For more information about Susan Grossey, visit her website: