Nev March. Released 10th Nov 2020 by Macmillan on their Minotaur imprint, it's 400 pages and available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.
This is such a beatifully imagined and richly rendered story full of compassion and honor and readable relatable characters alongside a thumping good mystery story. Though modern, the feel and writing remain true to the Victorian style and hearken back to classic authors of the period; Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, RL Stevenson, H.R. Haggard and others beloved of the time (and now).
The fictionalized plot is interwoven around real historical events and characters and like with all good writing, it's seamless and not clear where history shades into imagination.
I was blown away by the technical expertise of the writing - the dialogue flows very well (if formally), and I didn't get yanked out of the story once because of clunky or anachronistic elements. The story itself is warm and compassionate and the characters are engaging and interesting. The societal mores of the time along with the setting obviously play a central role and the author does a good job of compassionately presenting the realities of the time period (along with the crushing racism and often brutal standards of living for people of mixed race) without being depressing or cruel.
The word which springs to mind when thinking about the writing and story is "genteel". It's a very genteel and civilized book, and I'm gobsmacked that this is a debut effort. I sincerely hope readers have many more treats in store from this talented author.
Five stars. This would also make an excellent selection for library acquisition, book clubs, or discussion groups. Highly recommended.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.