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The Man in the Shadows

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August 1881. After a series of divorce cases the World's End Bureau get two new cases. Firstly they are approached by the Reverend James Jellicote to find a missing Russian Jewish refugee fleeing with his family from the pogroms, who had recently arrived in London. A job for Lily Raynor. And that of a possible miscarriage of justice. Jared Spokewright believes his brother Abel, was wrongly hanged for the murder of Effie Quittenden in Kent during the last hop-picking season. With connections in the area Felix Wilbraham journeys to Crooked Green.
Another entertaining, well-plotted and well-written historical mystery. With its array of varied and likeable characters, especially the two main charcters, it is another good addition to this Victorian series
An ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I was so pleased to receive an advanced copy of this book, our third foray into the world of Lily Raynor owner of the World's End Agency and her erstwhile employee Felix. I loved the first two in this series and was intrigued as to what the next adventure would be. 
In The Man in the Shadows, Lily and Felix set out on separate investigations- one searching for a lost refugee in the seamy streets of London while Felix goes to the country to investigate indigent workers on  a hop picking farm. Both of these stories are well told, the main characters do not disappoint and the extras are drawn so well we can readily identify each character and their purpose in driving the narrative. Alys Clare is so talented in her descriptions of location and reactions of the players. I adore Lily and Felix, especially Felix. My thanks to Netgalley,  the publishers and the Author for an ARC. Cannot wait for book four!
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Two worlds, two surprises, and murder!

Two cases taken up by the  World’s End Bureau. Lily Raynor takes one—the missing Russian child—a refugee from Russia. Felix Wilbraham the other—looking for evidence that would show a condemned man hung for the murder of his fiancé, was innocent.
The contrast between the Victorian dockside, the pursuit of a child newly arrived from Russia, down dank and dangerous alleys and slipways, along the canal docksides is overpowering and grim. (Clare’s descriptions invoke the overlay of despair in these areas). This is where Lily’s investigations take her. By her side is another Russian immigrant and lost youngster—Alexai. At her side, when needed, is Tamáz Edey, master of the canal boat The Dawning of the Day. Tamáz has been a welcome presence in all of Lily’s cases. He understands danger and the supernatural. (He’d gifted Lily a protective amulet in their first encounter). For all its evidence of misery this is also a place where the inhabitants at moments stand together for their own. Evil tracks the child Yakov, relentless and dark. Once again a miasma of the supernatural passes across Lily’s life.
By contrast Felix is in a pastoral delight with blue skies and the rich smell of the earth, even as it is layered with its own sense of brokenness. Felix’s investigations have him making contact with an arm of his family he knows little about. The contrast is great but that will change.
How these two worlds will collide is what has me puzzled. Clare manages that in the most disarming way.
Lily and Felix’s strengths and little details of their lives are emerging. They are growing as characters. A pleasing aspect. 
Another brilliant and palpable read from Clare that had me at various times puzzled, often breathless, and always wondering!

A Severn House ARC via NetGalley.                                              
Many thanks to the author and publisher.
(Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.)
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August 1881: Lily Raynor and her assistant Felix Wilbraham are sweltering in a hot London summer and wishing for an interesting case to solve.  Instead they get two: a missing Russian youth on the run after the Pogroms caused his Jewish family to flee, and a possibly wrongly executed man who murdered his girlfriend.

I count myself a fan of Ms Clare’s work despite it’s woo-woo elements which I personally find superfluous in a good story.  This time her sleuths each have a separate investigation, told in alternating chapters.  Lily gets to comb the hot streets of London, discovering that her quarry has some dangerous people on his tail and they aren’t afraid to kill.  Felix travels down to Kent’s hop picking area and finds quite a few people who thought the wrong man was convicted, but also quite a few suspects.  Both cases were interesting, but I felt that Felix’s investigation was handled better.  Lily’s case was interesting until it ended abruptly and frankly more as though the author had lost interest in it than anything else.  Overall, I enjoyed the novel but not as much as the last one for this reason.
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I go back and forth on Alys Clare's historical mystery series. There are two series I follow: the Dr. Gabriel Taverner series set in James I's England; and the World's End Bureau series is set in Victoria's England during the latter part of her reign. I always enjoy these titles—I certainly never regret reading one of them—but they vary from good reads to very good reads (IMHO). My favorite volume in the Taverner series is The Indigo Ghosts; my favorite in the World's End series is The Outcast Girls.

I would place The Man in the Shadows, the third volume in the World's End series, toward the "good" end of the spectrum: a satisfying read, but not threatening to throw The Outcast Girls from my #1 position. The Man in the Shadows offers a pair of mysteries. In London, Yakov, a 13 year-old boy, a Jewish refugee from Russia, has disappeared and is being stalked by a pair of threatening men. His Grandmother, who was hospitalized upon her arrival in England, is desperate to find him. In the countryside, where working-class Londoners regularly travel to participate in the hop harvest, a young woman was murdered and her fiancé hung for her murder. A year later, the fiancé's brother wants the murder reinvestigated and his brother's reputation restored.

The World's End Bureau is owned and run by Lily Raynor. Felix Welbraham is the additional investigator she employs. With two mysteries to solve, Lily remains in London to search for Yakov. Felix travels to the countryside to try to unmask a murderer. The book needs both mysteries. Just one of them wouldn't be enough to carry a novel—and it's fun to watch Lily and Felix working separately. As one would expect, by the novel's end, both mysteries are solved.

My biggest complaint about this title is the portrayal of Felix. From the start of the series, he's been secretly enamored of Lily. In this volume, it seems as if he's becoming enamored every time he crosses paths with an attractive woman. This leaves his attentions feeling less than genuine and raises ethical questions about his professionalism in his investigation.

If, like me, you're a historical mystery junkie, you'll find The Man in the Shadows a satisfactory read, the kind of thing one likes to pick up on an open weekend. I might, however, suggest starting with The Outcast Girls, which is the strongest of these novels and does a much better job of making the Felix character genuine.

I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley; the opinions are my own.
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I would like to thank Netgalley and Severn House Publishers for an advance copy of The Man in the Shadows, the third novel to feature Lily Raynor and Felix Wilbraham of the World’s End Enquiry Bureau, set in London in 1881.

The Bureau is starting to have some success, but Lily and Felix are getting fed up with infidelity cases. That changes one day when they get two cases unrelated to the upper classes and their love lives. The Reverend James Jellicoe asks them to find Yakov, an 11 year old Russian refugee who disappeared when his grandmother and only relative was taken to hospital. Then Jared Spokewright asks them to clear his brother’s name. Abel Spokewright was hanged for the murder of Effie Quittenden in the Kent village of Crooked Green.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Man in the Shadows which follows Lily and Felix through two entirely different investigations. Felix is in Kent trying to sort through various motives and suspects while Lily is in London’s East End looking for a needle in a haystack or more prosaically a poor, homeless child among the many.

The narrative alternates between these two different stories, one set in a deprived urban area, the other set in a rural village. This contrast is marked but human nature is indifferent to setting so danger still lurks for both Lily and Felix. Lily’s investigation is more overtly dangerous as she is not the only one looking for Yakov and the why of that is one of the mysteries in the novel. The explanation is certainly interesting, even if I’m not sure about its plausibility. Felix’s investigation is more traditional in that it is a straightforward hunt for a murderer who escaped justice, so he spends him time interviewing potential suspects and trying to find a motive. Both investigations are interesting, absorbing and compulsive in their own ways.

I like the author’s style of writing. The prose is clear and there is no muddle in the plot so its objectives are never in doubt and she builds inexorably to a conclusion. The locations are easy to visualise and the period detail seems well researched. At the same time there is a sense of tension in Lily’s case and more of a mystery in Felix’s case so all bases are covered.

The Man in the Shadows is a good read that I have no hesitation in recommending.
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Review
Thank you, NetGalley and Severn House, for the advanced copy of the book.
The Man in the Shadows is the third in the World's End Bureau series, following the previous novels, The Woman Who Spoke to Spirits and The Outcast Girls. The Man in the Shadows can be read as a stand-alone book. Although there is much to be gained by reading the previous novels beforehand.
I have read several books by Alys Clare, besides those mentioned above. She is a talented individual who can spin an intelligent and inventive yarn. Her historical mysteries are always fascinating and thoroughly entertaining. The research always seems first-rate, and nothing is left to chance, giving everything that needed authenticity.
Lily Raynor and Felix Wilbraham are not precisely in the same league as your Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John Watson. But they make a formidable duo when the need for crime-solving is called for.
Lily Raynor and Felix Wilbraham definitely have their work cut out for them this time. But solving the improbable is their forte, and they go about their business with the usual attention to detail.
The main characters are well-written, have plenty of depth, and are incredibly likeable, much in the same vein as Holmes and Watson.
The author vividly paints dark atmospheric gothic style settings superbly, literally bringing the Victorian period to life throughout the narrative. 
It is not the first time the author has weaved two major plot-lines into her books, and they always work particularly well in crime thrillers like these.
The dark tapestry of events that unfold within the story lead to misdirection and twists a plenty. 
The author's descriptive writing takes the reader on a picturesque stroll through the Victorian streets of London with all its sights and sounds and then into the more open expanses of Kent. The adventures of the two main protagonists are as per norm, varied and fascinating, especially when things conspire to take them out of their comfort zones. It all goes to make for an exciting, thrilling and enthralling adventure. 
All the characters in the book are very believable, even if they are dated and out of our time period. You can easily imagine the cases being adjusted slightly to fit in with current timelines and places. Similar to how they manipulated the Sherlock TV series.
The climactic conclusion came as not an out and out shock but something that I was fully expecting, which is always good.
I enjoyed The Man in the Shadows by Alys Clare, and I hope to see more from the World's End Bureau series.
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This is a fresh take on the serial killer thriller genre.  The main character is a Cuban American crime reporter.  In addition to being a gripping mystery, the main character is a fully fleshed out character with interesting relationships.  Top notch.
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I like this series. The MC and her employee are interesting and work two different cases in this book. I like the historical setting 

Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for me eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This was such a good read. The writing was really well done with a storyline that was compelling and characters that were really well developed. The pacing and the tone of the book were perfectly done and the twists and unpredictabilty of this book meant I couldn't put it down.
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Thank you Severn for the ARC.

This is one of the most perfectly written books I've ever read. The suspense, mystery, and character development all come together seamlessly.
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