By Heather Redmond
This is the second “gift” in A Dickens of a Crime series, and is one of the most satisfying mysteries you will read this year. The author uses her wit and skill to reimagine the life of Charles Dickens.
It is 1835, London. Charles is a young journalist, and he and his fiancée Kate are making sure to check on his neighbor, a woman by the name of Miss Haverstock who lives in the flat right above his own. But as the couple begin to climb the stairs, they notice an odd smell coming from the place. When they open the door, they are surprised and sickened by the sight that meets their eyes: Miss Haverstock is dressed in a faded wedding gown and propped up in a chair, looking like she’s been decomposing for some time.
The news is out that a convict, Ned Blood, has escaped from Coldbath Fields, and Charles is sure that this is the man who took his neighbor’s life. Kate, however, does not agree. Just by the way the woman was dressed and left, she feels that there are different motives happening here and that the killer knew Miss Haverstock personally.
When a local blacksmith is arrested, it is the man’s wife who comes to Charles and Kate and begs them for help. She knows her husband is innocent. When they attend the inquest, they are surprised to meet a foster daughter of Miss Haverstock’s who is beyond cold and heartless when she speaks. It soon becomes abundantly clear that the real criminal will be found in the very strange and twisted past of the spinster.
These are great tales that offer up a completely fresh side to Charles Dickens that readers are (and should be) falling in love with!