Monday, February 7, 2011


Pages: 372
Date: 07/02/2010
Grade: 4-
Details: no. 4 Pyke, historical mystery

I received this book from and reviewed it for BookDagger's RealReaders programme.

This is the fourth book in a series set in the 19th century, featuring Pyke.
Pyke is the head of the Metropolitan Police's recently established Detective Branch at Scotland Yard. He is a man with a violent and dubious past, which he tries to keep hidden from his colleagues and superiors. A man who has his own ways of investigating and who doesn't shy away from any means in order to get to the truth and what he considers to be justice.
The story starts with a robbery in a pawnbroker's shop leaving three men dead. Pyke recognises one of the victims as someone he had dealings with in the past and knows that once the man is identified, his own secrets may come to the surface, something he wishes to avoid at all cost. But, from the very first moment the investigation proves harder then it should be. And when the main suspect in the case commits suicide and the probable reason for the robbery, a valuable religious artifact, can't be found, the investigation grinds to a halt.
Soon after a rich clergy-man is found murdered and Pyke finds prove to connect the two cases. His superiors refuse to acknowledge the connection though and more or less order him to focus his investigation elsewhere. At the same time Pyke is aware that somebody on his team is leaking information about his investigations to those higher up.
When Pyke decides to conduct the investigation according to his own ideas he has no idea that before long he won't just be trying to close a case but will also find himself on the run from the law and fighting to safe not only his reputation and job, but also his life.

This was an interesting book. I loved the historical setting and reading about the start of the Detective Branch in Scotland Yard. But, I found Pyke a hard character to like at times, and had trouble trying to follow the interconnected story-lines and all the different people in the story. Part of the reason for my trouble understanding everything might be due to the fact that I haven't read the previous titles in this series though. And I have to say that by the end of the story all the different angles came together nicely and the story made complete sense.
Another thing I wasn't too impressed with was the rather detached approach the author seemed to take. Although he did describe feelings and thoughts, I could never really feel them, and didn't really connect with the characters in this story.
There is one thing I'm really curious about though. One of Pyke's colleagues is called Jack Whicher, and I couldn't stop wondering whether he might be the real historical figure who is the main subject of "The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher" by Kate Summerscale. In that book Summerscale relates the story of a real murder which was investigated by a Jack Whicher of Scotland Yard in 1860. I would have liked a historical note at the end of this book, solving this particular mystery for me.

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