cover image Arrowood and the Thames Corpses

Arrowood and the Thames Corpses

Mick Finlay. HQ, $16.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-00-832452-0

In Finlay’s outstanding third Victorian whodunit featuring private inquiry agents William Arrowood and Norman Barnett (after 2018’s The Murder Pit), the detectives, unlike Sherlock Holmes, whom Arrowood both envies and despises, continue to get prosaic clients with prosaic problems. One such problem, however, becomes much more complex. Captain Moon, the owner of a pleasure steamer that operates on the Thames, reports that someone, probably his business rival Captain Polgreen, has been vandalizing his boat when it’s docked at night. Arrowood and Barnett agree to talk to Polgreen, who denies the charges and claims instead that it was his vessel that was damaged by Moon. The case takes a much darker turn after Barnett and Moon find two ropes tied to Moon’s steamer the morning after their visit to Polgreen: 14 children’s skulls are strung along one rope, and a second is affixed to the murdered bodies of a man and two women. The tension builds as the investigators probe who sent Moon this grisly message and why. Finlay’s grim depictions of the inhabitants of the more impoverished parts of London evoke Dickens. Fans of gritty historicals will be richly rewarded. (June)