A Victorian detective solves a mystery but meets his match in his independent-minded young ward.
Although March Middleton, the orphaned daughter of an army doctor, had an unconventional upbringing, she’s still not quite prepared for a new life in London with her godfather and guardian, renowned detective Sidney Grice. Vain, arrogant and dapper, with a glass eye and a sardonic tongue, Grice has little use for Mrs. Grace Dillinger, a prospective client who can’t afford his fees. When she pleads on behalf of her son-in-law William Ashby, an ironmonger accused of stabbing his wife to death, March offers to foot the bill if she’s allowed to accompany Grice in his investigation. The unlikely duo explore the back alleys of London, examine corpses and blood spatter, interview an Italian opera singer, and evaluate the result of a recently developed blood test that proves to Grice’s and a jury’s satisfaction that Ashby is guilty. When a missing knife and a recovered wig suggest that Grice is wrong, he pursues the case even more relentlessly. He triumphs, but March still gets the better of him: the biggest satisfaction in a tale rich in gory detail and glass-eyeball gags.
Kasasian’s debut is an unflinching look at the darker side of Victorian London and a portrait of a heroine strong enough to stand up to a thoroughly disagreeable detective. Clever plotting, morbid humor and colorful characters are a greater treat for the mind than the heart—or the stomach.