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The Gaslight Mysteries Spring of Hope

Spring of Hope – Kirkus Reviews

A period mystery bolstered by an exciting mix of imagination and historical truth

Another case for those eminent Victorian sleuths Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens, last seen in Summer of Secrets (2021).

Spring 1859 finds a group of engineers striving to solve the problems of the previous summer, when the River Thames was so overwhelmed with effluent from London that thousands died of cholera and Members of Parliament had to hold their noses as they met.

The queen is offering a cash prize and knighthood to the person who can solve the problem, and Dickens, who’s befriended young engineer Joseph Bazalgette, is eager to help. Collins creates his own mystery when a woman’s fearful screams move him to rescue her and her child from a locked house.

He’s delighted when Caroline, an excellent cook, and her pretty and intelligent daughter, now called Carrie, move into his home, and he soon starts spoiling Carrie, even taking her with him on expeditions to view the engineers’ varied plans to solve the sewage problem.

When he hosts a dinner party for men interested in the problem, Caroline, still terrified of her mysterious former captor, overhears a voice that sends her into a frenzy of fear.

A shocking, seemingly accidental death during a demonstration at Bazalgette’s workshop sends Collins and Dickens on a hunt for a killer even though Collins secretly fears that Carrie may be involved.

A period mystery bolstered by an exciting mix of imagination and historical truth.

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The Gaslight Mysteries Spring of Hope

Spring of Hope starred review by Publishers’ Weekly

Victorian whodunits don’t get much better than this.

The prologue of Harrison’s superior fourth Gaslight mystery teaming novelists Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens (after 2021’s Summer of Secrets), a melancholy letter written by Collins on his deathbed in 1889, sets the stage for flashbacks to 1859.

In the wake of the Great Stink of 1858, during which an overwhelmed London sewer system combined with a heat wave to create a persistent foul odour in the metropolis, civil engineer Joseph Bazalgette, a friend of Dickens, is tasked with addressing the problem.

But murder interferes, as Collins relates in his letter. During an exhibition of Bazalgette’s proposed solution at a gathering attended by notables who include MP Benjamin Disraeli, a man, unidentified in the prologue, is killed in an explosion that sends metal fragments flying.

Collins and Dickens, present at the gathering, come to believe the death was no accident and partner up to seek a murderer.

Amid clever plot twists, Harrison maintains suspense as the action builds up to the fatal explosion, leaving readers in suspense as to who is killed and why.

Collins and Dickens subsequently investigate.

Victorian whodunits don’t get much better than this.