Saturday, June 1, 2024

Murder by Lamplight - Dr. Julia Lewis #1

Murder by Lamplight is a very promising series-debut historical mystery by Patrice McDonough. Released 20th Feb 2024 by Kensington, it's 336 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. Paperback due out from the same publisher in Jan 2025. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. For Kindle Unlimited subscribers, this book is currently included in the KU subscription library to borrow and read for free.

A well crafted thoroughly researched historical novel featuring an intelligent and driven young female physician in London in 1866. She's fully licensed (having used a legal loophole to join the register of practicing physicians after finishing her studies in the USA), and has joined her grandfather's practice. She has a very keen eye for detail, and employs critical reasoning and observation to also help the police with inquiries on a particularly brutal series of murders. 

It's not really a cozy, there are some gruesome details including a fairly graphic post-mortem emasculation, but overall, the violence occurs chiefly off-page, so it's not truly horrifying. The author also doesn't shy away from the historically accurate but distressing sexism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, poverty, and other unsavory details. Speaking of detail, the book is written around a framework of actual historical events and people, and interwoven with a lot of interesting real details of political and social movements of the time period. Ms. McDonough has definitely done her homework.

The characterizations are impressive (especially for a first book), and they're three dimensional and believable, with their own motivations and agendas. The murderer is particularly creepy, and has some internal monologue in the book, as well as a very "Jack-the-Ripper-esque" series of correspondence with the police. 

There's a second book in the series due out in 1st quarter 2025 from the same publisher. 

The unabridged audiobook version has a run time of 10 hours and 9 minutes and is capably read by Henrietta Meire. She has a light RP English accent, but does a credible job with the varied London accents both male and female. Sound and production quality are high throughout the read.

Worth a look for readers of historical mystery and very well written. Readers who enjoy Deanna Raybourn, Anna Lee Huber, Tasha Alexander, et. al., will likely enjoy this book.

Four stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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