Tuesday, March 31, 2009


A Barker & Llewelyn Novel
By Will Thomas
Touchstone Books
311 pages

This is one of my favorite series currently being written. A long time Sherlock Holmes fan, I always keep an eye out for fictional characters operating against the same historical backdrop of Victorian England. Thomas’ first novel in this series, SOME DANGER INVOLVED, hooked me immediately with the introduction of Inquiry Agent Cyrus Barker and his just-recruited aide, and chronicler, young Thomas Llewelyn. Dig into these archives and you’ll find my review of that terrific debut adventure.

Thomas wasted no time enjoying his laurels and soon offered up books two and three; TO KINGDOM COME and THE LIMEHOUSE TEXT, respectively. Each continued to evolve the relationship between the two main characters and delved deeper into the social and economic world that was the British Empire at this juncture in history. With each new entry we’ve come to learn more and more about Barker’s past in the Orient and his life as a ship’s captain. Whereas Llewelyn begins to mature under his employer’s tutelage, gaining new found confidence along with the skills imparted to him to become a bona fide agent.

When a young girl is kidnapped in broad daylight outside the offices of a respectable charity, Barker and Llewelyn are hired by the girl’s father who fears she’s been taken by white slavers. Against the backdrop of child labor issues and the plight of the poor in London’s factories, the two men soon uncover a much more sinister evil at work. The girl has become the victim of an audacious child serial killer who openly taunts the police with poems insulting their attempts to capture him. Calling himself Mr.Miacca, a character from a children’s fairy tale, this heartless killer promises to continue murdering little girls unless Barker can discover his identity and put an end to his twisted crimes.

The Barker and Llewelyn mysteries are suspense page turners that will satisfy the most jaded crime reader. I have relished each new adventure as they continue to round out these complex men and the world they inhabit. THE HELLFIRE CONSPIRACY is a pure literary triumphant and readers would be hard pressed to find a better classic mystery series. Books such as this one are why I love to read. Need I say more?

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