Detective Lavender Mystery Series by Karen Charlton

Karen Charlton has taken a bit of poetic license with the real-life Bow Street Runner, Principal Officer, Stephen Lavender by calling him a ‘detective’.  However, the stories are based on his real-life cases in Regency England.  How she came to learn of Detective Lavender is an interesting story in itself.  If you are interested, you can see that here.

Below are reviews of the first three books in the series and the book blurb for the fourth book in the series, Plague Pits & River Bones.


The Heiress of Linn Hagh (Detective Lavender Mysteries, #1)The Heiress of Linn Hagh by Karen Charlton
Book 1
Barbara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a great start for what is a new author and series for me. I love her writing style — straightforward, descriptive, well-developed characters, etc. Lavender seems to be a cross between Sherlock Holmes and MacGyver. He’s exceedingly smart, well educated and perceptive, but not particularly ‘people adept’.

I love the relationship between Lavender and Constable Woods. They are friends, but it seems much more than that — almost father/son. Woods is the ‘people person’. He’s one of those good-natured, affable kinds of people who has never met a stranger. People instinctively trust him and talk to him easily.

As a principal investigator for the famed Bow Street Runners, Lavender is often called to various parts of England to solve cases that local investigators cannot solve. As often as possible, Lavender takes Constable Woods with him.

An heiress is missing — from a room that is locked from the inside. Her uncle contacts Bow Street and Lavender and Woods are sent to Northumberland to solve the mystery and find the heiress.

It doesn’t take them long to figure out that there is more going on than just a missing heiress. There is true madness and evil at Linn Hagh and more than one victim. The mystery is sort of gothic in nature – brooding like Wuthering Heights.

I’ve seen a number of questions about the accuracy of the Bow Street runners scenario’s on other reviews. I was questioning at first as well, but the author includes her research and information at the end of the book in the Author’s Notes section that is really interesting. Seems there REALLY was a principal investigator named Lavender.

Some people may find the writing style a little dry — sort of like the old Dragnet series on TV, but I enjoyed it thoroughly and can’t wait to start the next one.


The Sans Pareil Mystery (Detective Lavender Mysteries, #2)The Sans Pareil Mystery by Karen Charlton
Book 2
Barbara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book two in the Lavender mystery series. Another great addition to the series.

Me Ma says ‘Send a Constable’! Quick! They’re murdering a woman at Raleigh Close on ‘Art Street.” So begins the mystery. In the remains of a dilapidated building, they find the body of a beautiful young woman concealed beneath the floorboards. She’s been dead for two or three days — and — her shoes don’t fit. The young woman is soon identified as an actress from the local theater.

Lavender and Woods investigate and their investigations soon take strange turns — misidentification, spies, murder and general mayhem.

I like the interplay between Lavender and Woods — they play off each other really well. I don’t care for Donᾶ Magdalena, who is Lavender’s love interest. Maybe she’ll grow on me through other books in the series, but so far I don’t like her.


The Sculthorpe Murder (Detective Lavender Mysteries #3)The Sculthorpe Murder by Karen Charlton

Book 3
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an excellent thriller!  This specific case is loosely based on a case in 1818 when a gang of robbers burst into the home of elderly William Sculthorpe and robbed and viciously assaulted him and his son. The real Stephen Lavender was called to investigate the attack.

You won’t believe how many scallywags there are in this one small town — including the victim himself! There are lots of twists and turns and red herrings thrown at you, but if you pay attention as you read, you can figure out who the bad guys are, but it is always interesting to see how Lavender catches them.

His moral dilemmas at the end are interesting. Lavender is a bit of a nerd — very cerebral and doesn’t interact really well with people so you could see him going either way on those. You’re pretty sure which way he’ll end up going, but — well — it could be either way.

I’m looking forward to the next book.


Plague Pits & River Bones
Plague Pits & River Bones (Detective Lavender Mysteries #4)

Release Date:  January 11, 2018

London 1812: Treacherous gangs roam the capital, and not even the Palace of Westminster is safe. When Detective Stephen Lavender is called in to investigate a highway robbery and a cold-blooded murder, both the cases take a dangerous and disturbing personal twist.

And when Lavender’s trusted deputy, Constable Ned Woods, finds a mysterious severed foot washed up on Greenwich Beach, they soon realize that these ancient bones are more sinister than they first appeared.

With Bow Street Police Office undermanned and in disarray, it will take all of Lavender and Woods’s wit and skill—and some help from Lavender’s spirited wife, Magdalena—to unmask the fiend behind the mayhem, restore peace and justice to the beleaguered city and solve the tragic mystery of the severed foot.

But will they do so in time to foil a plot that threatens to plunge the country into chaos?

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