Library Lines

“Assistant to prominent enquiry agent.  Typing and shorthand required. Some danger involved in performance of duties. Salary commensurate with ability.  7 Craig’s Court.”

So begins a series of novels set in Victorian England and written by Will Thomas.  The first book in the series, Some Danger Involved introduces us to the enquiry agent, Cyrus Barker, and the young Welshman who answers the advertisement, Thomas Llewelyn.

Thomas is at the end of the line, so to speak.  He was once a promising young scholar at Oxford, until an unfortunate incident sends him to prison.  Upon his release, no one is interested in hiring an ex-con and his resources are beyond exhausted when he arrives at 7 Craig’s Court.  Luckily for Llewelyn (and for Barker, as well) he performs well during the interview and is offered the position of Enquiry Agent Assistant – do not call Barker a private detective!

His first case with Barker involves the mysterious death of a young, handsome Jewish scholar of Polish descent whose body is found one morning in Petticoat Lane. The young man, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Jesus, has been crucified.  Is this horrible death simply a brutal murder, or could it be a warning to London’s Jewish community?  Is it a sign of an upcoming persecution?

Barker and Llewelyn are on the case, attempting to piece together the personal life of the victim and his actions in the days before his murder.  This death is not the only mystery. Llewelyn slowly learns certain facts about his mysterious employer—information about his background and his various life experiences.  But in spite of his best efforts, much about Cyrus Barker remains an intriguing mystery.

Will Thomas takes us back to the London of 1884 with ease, grace and a bit of humor.  I love it when an author can drop me into another time period, so that I feel a part of the scenery.  The reader can experience the seamier side of London along with Llewelyn as he helps to solve the mystery of the crucifixion.  There is a strong sense of Holmes and Watson here, but enough difference and variety to make the read a truly enjoyable one.

Will Thomas has written six books featuring Barker and Llewelyn.  In the second book, To Kingdom Come, Barker and Llewelyn must infiltrate a group of Irish anarchists who are seeking to blow up London, literally, in the name of achieving Home Rule for their beloved Ireland.  The stories are full of action and suspense, and a fair amount of varied martial arts.  I’ve just started book three, The Limehouse Text.  Barker is determined to solve the mystery surrounding the death of his former assistant, Quong.  Llewelyn is rather interested in the circumstances surround his predecessor’s death, and follows Barker into the shadows of the Chinese underworld.  It’s shaping up to be another can’t-put-it-down read!

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