A Tale of Two Murders Reviewed by Elizabeth M.
As soon as I heard the description “a historical mystery with a young Charles Dickens as the sleuth,” I knew this was a book I had to read, and A Tale of Two Murders by Heather Redmond did not disappoint. It’s a clever reimagining of Dickens’s early life and career, with more than a dash of mystery and the macabre thrown in, along with a touch of romance.
The story begins with a young, struggling journalist, Charles Dickens, attending dinner at his employer’s home. Dickens finds himself drawn to his boss’s eldest daughter Kate, but suddenly the dinner is interrupted by a piercing scream. Dickens and Kate run next door to discover a young woman has fallen seriously ill during an upper crust dinner party. Despite the best efforts of the doctor and family the young woman is dead by the next morning.
It all seems to be a senseless tragedy, until Dickens’s job at the newspaper leads him to discover that another young woman had died in the same neighborhood, under the same odd circumstances almost exactly a year earlier.
Could London have a serial poisoner on its hands? That is the question Charles and Kate must try to discover. With an impressive cast of characters, and lush historical details and setting, this first book in the A Dickens of A Crime mystery series combines the historical reality of Dickens life with the fiction and fantasy of his later writings. The premise reminded me a touch of the film Shakespeare in Love, which imagined a scenario that Shakespeare could have lived to have inspired his most famous play, Romeo and Juliet. This hybrid of truth and fiction makes for a compelling read. I love a good mystery and good history, and Heather Redmond gives us more than enough of both. What better figure to follow around 19th century London than the Godfather of Victorian literature himself?
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