Harrison again pairs Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins as amateur sleuths (following Summer of Secrets, 2021).
London is recovering from the 1858 “Summer of the Great Stink,” which has resulted from human waste flowing into the Thames. The government is determined to find a solution, with the pollution growing deadlier with each passing month.
A prize is established for the scientist who can solve the problem, and the competition is fierce. Collins is heading home one night when he hears a woman’s screams coming from a nearby house.
Without thinking, he breaks into the house and rescues the woman and her little girl. When he learns their lives are in danger, he takes them to his home to keep them safe. The woman is terrified but refuses to tell Collins why.
It’s only after a terrible accident at a demonstration of one scientist’s plan to stop the stink that Collins and Dickens begin to comprehend the truth behind the byzantine story.
Cleverly plotted, deftly written, with vivid characters, rich period ambience, and gentle humor, Harrison’s latest is sure to please fans of historical mysteries.
— Emily Melton