Friday, August 9, 2019

Grave Expectations - A Review


The Second Dickens of a Crime Mystery

Kate Hogarth asks her fiance for a mystery to distract her while waiting for their wedding. Not content with an old conundrum Kate pines for something recent. She gets her wish when she and Charles Dickens go to check on his elderly neighbor only to find her dead, murdered in the apartment above his. Who would want to kill an old woman? Does it have anything to do with the ancient magazine thrust under Charles's door that told of the killing of a young Jewish girl? With a friend suspected of the current murder, Charles and Kate once again are plunged into a mystery.

Life was not easy in the pre-Victorian time period and Heather Redmond's atmospheric descriptions capture this vividly. From the noxious fumes of the River Thames, crooked landlords, and desperate poverty to the fact that authorities let dead remain where they were found until a hearing could be convened, which could be days, readers are granted a visceral visit back in time.

I continue to be fond of Charles Dickens as he strives to do the best for everyone, yet find myself a bit miffed at Kate. In this second Dickens of a Crime Mystery, Kate acts spoiled and more petulant than supportive. While I understand her attitude towards Julie, and Charles's interactions with her, Kate's response to Charles's financial state was beyond the pale. Despite my irritation with Kate's behavior, I was still captivated by her, indeed all of the characters gathered my attention, for better or worse. Manipulative Julie, joyful Breese Gadfly, dastardly Nickerson, and even the haughty Miss Jaggers imbue the mystery with life, and ultimately death.

Providing an inventive look at the young Charles Dickens, GRAVE EXPECTATIONS is a gripping tale of murder and the past that none of us can truly escape.

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