cover image Inspector Abberline and the Gods of Rome

Inspector Abberline and the Gods of Rome

Simon Clark. Hale (IPG, dist.), $27.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7198-1084-8

Despite this historical mystery’s imaginative premise, Clark (Ghost Monster) fails to make real-life Insp. Frederick Abberline of Scotland Yard, best known for his role in the Jack the Ripper case, into a convincing Holmes-like lead. In 1890, Abberline looks into the death of Sir Alfred Denby, who died in his East Carlton workshop after an accidental gunpowder explosion. Sir Alfred was in the habit of firing a cannon every morning to signal to his estate staff that the work day had begun. One of Alfred’s surviving siblings, Victor, suspects that Alfred, like the three other brothers who predeceased Alfred, fell victim to a curse connected with rumors that the family was involved with the politically sensitive theft of valuable Italian statues known as the Gods of Rome. Unassisted by anyone official, Abberline ropes a fawning journalist, Thomas Lloyd, who has been assigned to write about him, into the Watson role. The sloppy plotting, including a gratuitous supernatural element, isn’t representative of Clark’s best work. (Nov.)