This gentle and fascinating comfort read is the fourth in Susan Grossey’s Sam Plank detective series, set in the early 19th century, when London constables worked for local magistrates, finding criminals on their patch and delivering them up to justice.
I love this series, and the only reason it’s taken me so long to get round to reading this one is that I was saving it to savour when I knew I had time to relax and enjoy it properly. (Just how hooked I am on it was illustrated to me when I flicked through the first few pages of this book, one for each of the previous three in the series, and spotted myself being quoted in praise of each one!)
Early Nineteenth-Century Crime
The series portrays crimes particular to the era in which the books are set, offering fascinating insights into the workings of society in those days and how much the law has changed since.
This book centres around the illicit trade in imported erotic French miniature paintings – an interesting contrast to the easy availability online of the modern equivalent. As in the previous Plank stories, the crime and the perpetrators are pursued across London and beyond, with a vivid sense of place and period wherever the plot takes us.
As the series develops, we also learn more of the heartwarming relationship between Constable Sam Plank and Martha, his wise and supportive wife of 25 years. I’m also enjoying the character development of his sidekick William Wilson, who the childless but hugely maternal Martha takes under her wing.
This is one of those comfort-read series where you can’t wait for the next one to come out so that you can spend more time in the company of the key characters, and you know you’ll want to read it whatever the title or the plot. In the meantime, I enjoy seeing the set so far lined up with their beautiful rainbow display of covers on my bookshelf. These are all definitely keepers.
To learn more about Susan Grossey, her other books,
and her day job writing about money-laundering
(anti-money-laundering books, that is, not how-tos!),
visit her website: www.susangrossey.wordpress.com