Tag Archives: Karen Charlton

Plague Pits & River Bones by Karen Charlton

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

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Detective Lavender #4
Publication Date: 1/11/18

Holy shades of Sherlock! I do believe Detective Lavender has met his Moriarty. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I don’t know, but can’t wait to find out as the series continues. I certainly don’t want him to become a focus in the series, but popping up every now and again to create havoc could be a very interesting thing indeed!

One of my favorite things about this series is the interweaving of actual people, facts and events with the fiction. Detective Stephen Lavender was an actual Principal Officer of the Bow Street Runners and the author weaves his actual cases and events into the stories. In this one, she uses the real assassination of England’s Prime Minister, Spencer Perceval, in 1812. This author does in-depth research before writing her books and then seamlessly blends fact and fiction. The stories are fast-paced, well-plotted, well written, intriguing and filled with wonderfully interesting and relatable characters.

Bow Street received a pittance from Parliament each year. There was no way they could police the area they were required to police and still manage to operate within that budget. The clever Magistrate Read, Lavender’s boss, found a way to supplement their income. Based on that income, he had begun a much needed building addition with additional holding cells, courtrooms, etc. The additional income adding to the Bow Street coffers came from assigning his much-sought-after Principal Detectives to cases in other areas of England – where they were paid handsomely for their services.

“Gawd’s teeth!” is how our story begins in May of 1812. Constables Ned Woods and Barnaby encounter a completely naked man cavorting on the beach in Greenwich. Ned recognizes the man as an escaped bedlamite and after a bit of a scuffle, they capture the man and get him back to Bow Street. It seems things just head downhill from there – for Bow Street.

Detective Lavender returns to London after the successful completion of an out of town case that kept him away for two weeks, only to discover that he is the ONLY Principal Officer in town and everything falls on his shoulders. Not only is he to get all of the cases, but the Magistrate wants him to leave for another out of town case – this time in Ireland. Stephen is not a happy camper!

Crime seems to be running rampant in London. There are rumors, unsubstantiated but believable, of a new gang with a wily leader that is now operating within London. Lavender has to deal with a plethora of cases – large and small – and slowly begins to wonder if they could all somehow be related. There are blatant highway robberies where the thieves seemed to know the victims along with when they were traveling and what they were transporting. Then you have the murder of a Baron that draws in sweet Duddles (you’ll know him from previous books) – not to mention that he is having to keep tabs on a man (formerly a rich merchant) who is bitter at the government. Adding to that list is the discovery that Ned Woods made when corralling the escaped bedlamite – he found a severed foot. Magistrate Read doesn’t want Lavender working on that find, but it intrigues Lavender, so he adds that to his list of cases he’s juggling.

This story is fast-paced and crimes are popping up all over and you begin to wonder how you’ll ever keep them straight and how Lavender will ever solve all of them. Then, you begin to notice a pattern and you begin to wonder . . . . hmmmmm. You think you know who one of the villains is early on, but you learn more and more as you go on and – WOW! You won’t want to take a break from reading – because – something exciting might happen while you are away and you would miss it!

This story is a bit darker than the others in the series, but not too dark. There is a bit of humor too with Magdalena’s maid being taught English words by her want-to-be beau. For instance – Magdalena asks the maid if Lavender’s bath water is hot enough. The answer was that it was “very peppery”.

I love all of the supporting characters in the book, but particularly the relationship between Lavender and Woods. They are great friends and would do anything for each other. Their conversations are just great – Ned is older and offers Lavender great advice – such as – Ned has given Lavender the advice to give his wife back rubs. He’s suggested it several times, so Lavender asks “Ned, what’s this obsession you have with back rubs?” To which Ned replies “Well, that’s good. One thing leads to another . . .” Other memorable characters are Duddles, the young lover of Magdalena’s friend and young Eddie Woods, the thirteen year old son of Ned Woods.

Another thing to like is the believability of the story and the consequences. For instance – when Lavender is trapped in an old building and is submerged in brackish, contaminated river water, he didn’t just walk out unscathed. He was seriously sickened as would have happened in real life.

You could read this as a stand-alone book, but I cannot, for the life of me, think why you would want to. The character development and growth throughout the series is well worth the time to read – not to mention all of the stories are GREAT! So, Happy reading – I just know you’ll love it.

Please see my reviews of the other books in the series here! https://flippinpages.blog/2017/09/27/…

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“I requested and received this e-book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”


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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