Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Arnifour Affair by Gregory Harris

Title: The Arnifour Affair
Author: Gregory Harris
Publisher: Kensington
Expected Release Date: January 28, 2014

Victorian London has known its share of detectives. The most famous is of course Sherlock Holmes. Now there is another sleuth looking for criminals among the masses of turn of the century London. The Arnifour Affair introduces us to Colin Pendragon and his partner Ethan Pruitt. Pendragon is an intelligent detective who has a penchant for weight lifting, wrestling, and solving crimes.

Lord Arnifour has been beaten to death and his niece, beaten into a coma, has been left for dead. The widow hires Pendragon to find the killer. The police suspect the gardener, but she believes him innocent. Pendragon quickly learns that is client’s family is anything but ideal. There seems to be nothing but lies, intrigues, deceptions, and run arounds at every step. As Pendragon tries to solve the crime he seems to get more hindrance than help from the family. That does not quell his determination. Before the story is over a great deal of sordid information will come out.

Inside this tale of murder and intrigue there is an additional story. A young man comes to the flat looking for help from Pendragon. The young man’s sister is missing. While searching for information on the murder case the detective and his streetwise partner take time to search for the missing girl. This search will take them from a poverty stricken tenement to Embassy Row. Before it is done this case will also provide many twists and turns and end up with a complete surprise.  

Pendragon is an interesting character. He is obviously a well-educated man, the son of a lifelong member of the British government. He has many of the anti-social attitudes that characterize famous detectives such as Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. Unlike Holmes he can be very charming when he wants to be. In many ways his character is more human, and therefore more believable than Holmes. His partner, Ethan Pruitt, is the narrator of the story. Pruitt’s background gives him an insight to the darker side of London.

There is a certain difficulty in writing books placed in a recent past. The Victorians, particularly the Victorian gentry spoke a certain way. We know a lot about this because this was the age of mass printing. We speak differently today. So an author writing a book set in that period needs to sound authentic, without sounding antiquated. Harris does a very good job navigating these difficult waters.

All told this is a well written and enjoyable book. I enjoyed this book and I eagerly await the next volume in this exciting series.

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