The Murder of Patience Brooke

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 23 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

The Murder of Patience Brooke, the first novel in J. C. Briggs's Charles Dickens Investigations series, is part historical fiction, part murder mystery set in bustling Victorian London. Originally released in 2012 it sets up for the two more books to come both featuring Charles Dickens as an intrepid and highly observant investigator as he teams up with Superintendent Jones from Bow Street police. You can tell that Briggs loves Dickens and has extensively researched both the man and the time period in which he lived lending an air of authenticity to the story from the very beginning.

Dickens's fascination with people, crime and murder serve him well here as he chases the case through to its conclusion like a pit-bull nip-nip-nipping at the heels of the perpetrator. For a fan of classic crime novelists such as Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle whose focus is on the mystery and much less on profanity and graphic violence, this will most likely be thoroughly enjoyable. The writing flows well, the characters are intriguing and the Victorian setting is perfect. It's grim, foggy and has plenty of dingy, dimly-lit alleys for criminals to disappear down, letting the dark envelop them. The ideal cosy, historical crime novel for the chilly winter evenings.

Many thanks to Sapere Books for an ARC.
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‘Mr Dickens, you must come immediately.  Patience Brooke is dead this night.’

Set in Victorian London in 1849, the discovery of Patience Brooke’s body hanging outside Urania Cottage has Mrs Georgiana Morson, matron of the cottage, writing to Charles Dickens.  She asks him to attend, and to bring his friend Superintendent Sam Jones of Bow Street as well.  Patience Brooke was Mrs Morson’s assistant at Urania Cottage, established by Charles Dickens and Miss Angela Burdett-Coutts as a sanctuary for fallen women.  A murder of one of the Cottage’s inhabitants could undermine the good work being done there.  Charles Dickens is desperate to protect the reputation of Urania Cottage and to prevent a scandal from spreading.

A description of a ‘man with a crooked face’ and a fragment of a song overheard seem to be the only clues. 
‘Thrown on the wide world, doom’d to wander and roam, 
Bereft of my parents, bereft of my home.’

Little was known about Patience Brooke’s past.  Initially Superintendent Jones and Charles Dickens keep the murder from the public, telling those that they interview that Patience Brooke is missing.  Their search for the killer takes them into many unsavoury parts of Victorian London and involves several interesting well-crafted characters.  The London fog has its own part to play in the story.

Having started with a perfectly plausible reason for Charles Dickens’s involvement in the murder investigation, Ms Briggs has him reflecting on his life and books he has written. We see aspects of his domestic life, his concerns for his family and gathering observations for new works.  At the same time, he and Superintendent Jones are following possible leads which have them travelling around London in search of the killer. Identifying the killer is one step, locating the killer is another.

I really enjoyed this novel, which is the first in a series.  I enjoyed the descriptions of Victorian London, the portrayal of Charles Dickens as both man and author almost as much as the murder mystery itself.  I’m looking forward to the next novel.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Sapere Books for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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A very good historical mystery and a very good start for a new series.
The book was enjoyable and entertaining and atmospheric.
I like the style of writing, the sombre tone and how the characters and the historical background were written.
The mystery was good, no plot hole, and it keeps you hooked till the last page.
I look forward to reading other instalment in this series.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to Sapere Books and Netgalley for this ARC
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One of my favourite authors is Charles Dickens and I love anything written by him, so when I got the chance to read this, I simply devoured it. It’s everything I could hope for in a Victorian mystery. It is somewhat slow paced, especially at the beginning, but it’s worth staying with.  It is well written and enjoyable, especially for a cold and wet winter’s day. 

Charles Dickens has set up a home, Urania Cottage, for fallen women (with the help of wealthy Miss Coutts, who has financed the home) and the lovely Mrs Morson who is resident matron. 

In November 1869 Mrs Morson discovers the murdered body of Patience Brooke, who helps out at Urania Cottage and has secrets of her own. 

Charles Dickens and his good friend, Superintendent  Sam Jones of Bow Street, work together to uncover the murderer and get justice for Patience. 

I liked the fact that Charles Dickens was writing his books and reflecting on others that he had written. A very nice touch indeed. 

A very promising start to what will be a great series with Mr Dickens himself. 

With many thanks to Sapere Books via NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC.
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