Gwendoline Butler, Dread Murder Reviews

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“Dread Murder ”

★★★★★

written by Harriet Klausner on 07/02/2007

Dread Murder
Gwendoline Butler
Dunne, Apr 2007, $23.95
ISBN: 0312361335

Having survived the horrors of the Napoleonic Wars, Major Mearns and his battle brother Denny work and live at Windsor Castle as Watchers who insure the safety of the royal residents especially the recently crowned King George IV. Living at the monarch's abode may seem regal, but for the likes of Mearns and Denny, it is the dreaded Ds: dirty, dusty, and drafty. Still it is a lot easier and safer an assignment than combat was.

Meanwhile, ten-year-old former factory worker Charlie stows a ride on a coach leaving London for Windsor. During the ride, Charlie befriends actress Miss Fairface, who is traveling to the city to join the Theatre Royal. In town, Charlie makes some money when he delivers a couple of heavy packages to Mearns at Windsor Castle. However, inside the parcels are the ghastly remains of someone Mearns knew. Stunned, Major Mearns and Denny investigate with Charlie as their sidekick. Their efforts take them to Theatre Royal where a corpse is found and soon other homicidal attempts occur.

The second Major Mearns (see THE KING CRIED MURDER - not reviewed) historical mystery is a delightful, early-1820s whodunit in which the intelligent, street-smart kid steals the storyline from the two heroes, especially with a delightful final twist. The investigation, enhanced by real persons and places such as the Theatre Royal, is fun to follow as the audience obtains a taste of Regency England, especially the royal town of Windsor where, for instance, a professional police force is a new concept. As with her Coffin tales, Gwendoline Butler provides a fabulous investigative tale.

Harriet Klausner

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