I keep promising myself I’m going to kick my cosy mystery habit and move on to something edgier instead, but somehow I never do. My latest read, Karen Charlton’s Murder in Park Lane, did nothing to make me want to look elsewhere.
The book is set in London in 1812 and it’s the fifth in a series featuring Inspector Lavender and his sidekick Ned Woods, but it worked very well as a standalone. So many series writers slip up here, but Charlton has it spot on — just the right amount of backstory, enough hints about past mysteries to nudge the reader towards them without leaving you feeling that you’ve missed out, and yet she manages to engage the reader with her recurring characters (though I would guess there are only two detectives, so there’s not a huge amount of room for confusion).
There’s murder afoot, in fashionable Mayfair, where a man has been found mysteriously dead inside a locked room with no murder weapon. This intriguing premise was perhaps solved rather earlier than I would have liked, but the mystery took off nicely, full of twists and turns as people’s secrets were revealed. Lavender and Woods are hot on the trail, though, relentlessly picking their way through the mysteries of the wealthy and the titled, the poor, the moneylenders and the fraudsters until they reach a satisfying conclusion.
For the most part I loved the characterisation, which was neat and anything but cliched, and I laughed out loud at some of the turns in the book (such as the nymphomaniac elderly ladies with an eye for handsome young men). I wasn’t so taken with the subplot of Woods deciding he was overweight and fasting to the detriment of his health, which was something that felt far more like the behaviour of a teenage girl than of a policeman with an adult child. It was so odd that I assumed it must have something to do with the plot, but it didn’t and rather petered out.
That one gripe aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will definitely be going back to read more in the series.
Thanks to Amazon Publishing UK and Netgalley for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.