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Posts Tagged ‘Charles Dickens’

A TALE OF TWO MURDERS by Heather Redmond: Book Review

Before Charles Dickens was a world-renowned novelist, he was a young journalist working in London.  Determined not to live the life his father led, with two terms of confinement in debtors’ prisons, Charles was working hard and determined to make his mark in society.

As A Tale of Two Murders opens, it is 1835 and Charles has been invited for dinner at the home of his employer, the Evening Chronicle‘s co-editor.  This marks the first time he meets Catherine (Kate) Hogarth, the oldest daughter in the family, and he is immediately smitten by her looks and personality.

Their dinner is interrupted by several screams that seem to come from the neighboring house, which belongs to the family of the late Lord Lugoson.  Dickens, Kate, and Mr. Hogarth walk over to investigate and come upon a strange scene–about a dozen people, including several servants, are standing aimlessly in a room while in front of the fireplace lies a young girl apparently coming out of a fainting episode.

Lady Lugoson’s guests seem unable to cope with the situation, so Charles, Kate, and Mr. Hogarth assist the hostess in getting the young woman, who is her daughter Christiana, to her bedroom.  Various physicians are called in throughout the night, but in the early hours of the next morning she dies a painful death.

When Charles go the Chronicle’s office later that morning and tells fellow reporter William Aga about the tragedy, he hears a strange story.  William tells Charles that he knows of an almost identical episode that took place on the same date, January 6th, a year earlier.  A young woman, the same age as Miss Lugoson, was also stricken and died the following day.  The symptoms that the two girls experienced sound identical to both men.

Intrigued and upset by William’s story and the suffering that he witnessed, Charles begins an investigation into the deaths of the two girls.  In addition to his curiosity, he has an added inducement to follow the story–Kate has been given permission by her father to join Dickens in his quest, and she is more than eager to break out of her routine and help.

In A Tale of Two Murders, it appears that in his early twenties Dickens had no inclination or desire to become a novelist.  Instead, he saw himself as a reporter and possible playwright.  We know that the successes of The Pickwick Papers, David Copperfield, and A Tale of Two Cities lie ahead of him, and it’s delightful to read about his life prior to that.

Heather Redmond (a pseudonym) has succeeded in bringing not only Dickens to life but the times he lived in as well.  Her descriptions of society’s manners, dining habits, clothing, and mores make A Tale of Two Murders a fascinating story.

You can read more about Heather Redmond’s new historical mystery at various internet sites.  Since Dickens wrote 15 novels, readers of A Tale of Two Murders perhaps may look forward to more novels in this series.  A Christmas Carnage or Murderous Expectations?

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden Oldies, Past Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.