The creator of Buck Schatz (Don’t Ever Look Back, 2014, etc.) takes a giant leap back in time to present a murder solved by George Gordon Noel, Lord Byron.
Young Byron, buoyed by the debut of Hours of Idleness (and quite impervious to its largely negative reviews), lives life as befits a noble young gentleman at Trinity College, Cambridge. He shares his spacious quarters in Nevile’s Court with his valet, Joe Murray, and The Professor, a partly tame bear. Avoiding classes likely to stifle his genius, he spends his time drinking and seducing young women. But when the charms of consorts like Violet Tower pall, he turns his talents to crime investigation. After all, shouldn’t the world’s greatest poet also be the world’s greatest detective? The murder of Felicity Whippleby, a young woman living in Cambridge in hopes of gaining an education (and perhaps also a husband) through sheer propinquity, provides fertile ground for his talents, and being barred from the murder scene by Constable Angus Buford merely whets his appetite. Soon the young lord is joined by two professional sleuths, whip-smart Sir Archibald Knifing and bumbling Fielding Dingle, presumably dispatched by Felicity’s father, Lord Whippleby. But why send two detectives? And what do they have to detect, since Byron is convinced from the outset that Felicity was killed by her fiance, Leif Sedgewyck? It takes several crates of wine, a pinch of laudanum, and an avalanche of additional corpses to test whether Byron’s theory is correct.
Whether the young rake is charming despite or because of his nonstop sarcasm, egoism, and debauchery will depend on the reader’s tastes. But given Byron’s short life span, Friedman will need to check back with his hero every few months in order to stretch his series to more than a few volumes.