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Stop Making Sense

I read anything that's nailed down, or even just moving slowly. Cereal boxes, candy wrappers, all genres, etc., and I don't always have much time for arbitrary distinctions like literary fiction vs. genre fiction.

A Georgian Columbo...

A Dark Anatomy - Robin Blake

It's not often you read a murder mystery set in 1740s England. This should have been right up my Anglophile alley, but it just felt like a slog, with an unearned denouement at the end.

Titus Cragg is a prosperous attorney in the town of Preston, and he does double-duty as the town's coroner. He's called out to investigate the discovery of a body in the woods, which turns out to belong to the wife of the local hot-headed squire. With his physician friend Luke Fidelis, Cragg uncovers facts implicating this person and that person. As always, there are red herrings and false trails, with another couple of bodies piling up along the way.

Strengths: Preston was (and is) an actual town in the U.K., and the picture of life back then is well done. I have to admit I didn't know much about what happened in England in the years between the plague era and the Regency period, so it was interesting from that perspective.

Weaknesses: I mentioned the problems with pacing above. Add to this a lack of character development--except for the deceased, none of the characters are materially changed because of the events of the book. Finally, Titus Cragg is not a particularly sympathetic character--he's got all the classist and sexist trappings of a well-to-do man of his time, and looks down on "Papists" as irrational while simultaneously arranging for a stake to be driven through the heart of a corpse to keep its spirit from haunting the town. Right. He also lies when it serves his purposes. I do think he's probably historically accurate, so if that's your cup of tea, go for it.