Monday, 2 July 2018

A Necessary Murder - M.J. Tjia

A provocative title if ever there was one ? Especially for those who believe that all murder is unnecessary! What better way to lure a reader in? 

An historical whodunnit that had me thinking of Mr. Whicher at times and E.C.R. Lorac at others, the reader is whisked into a world of oriental Victorian deception and murder. Quite a diverse recipe for crime aficionados. This is the second book to feature Heloise Chancey. I’ve not read the first and whilst this does work as a standalone I feel the experience would have been enhanced by familiarity with the first tale. I sometimes found I had to re read parts to sort out the various relationships in my head that may have been introduced in the first story. (Note to self, add She Be Damned to the ‘Want to Read’ list.) Ms. Chancey is a courtesan and a detective! Not a combination I’ve come across so far in my crime reading but it makes for a good one!

Sub plots and red herrings abound as we are plunged into some brutal murders that may or may not be connected with aspects of Heloise’s past. The historical details appear well researched and authentic and it is easy for the reader to conjure the sights and sounds of two very different social strata of 1863 London. Heloise is a gutsy lady but she never loses touch with her femininity. It’s just as well for that does add a little light relief in what might otherwise be a dark and violent tale. 

The final denouement was largely unexpected although in retrospect the clues were there. I love it when that happens!! It’s a successful fusion of cultures which certainly made me think about Victorian London beyond the mere Dickensian. 

I’m sure that’s not the last of Heloise Chancey? Why stop at two stories?! I’ll be keeping my eyes open for the next one that’s for sure! My thanks to Legend Press for the opportunity to read this intriguing mystery.

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