cover image The Durham Deception

The Durham Deception

Philip Gooden. Severn, $28.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7278-6995-1

Deceit, revenge, and murder drive Gooden's absorbing second cathedral mystery set in Victorian England (after 2008's The Salisbury Manuscript). At a s%C3%A9ance at the forbidding London residence of medium Ernest Smight, one of the participants reveals himself to be an undercover policeman and accuses Smight of fraud. Smight later throws himself off Waterloo Bridge, setting off a relentless campaign of vengeance by a sinister figure known only as "Doctor Tony." Meanwhile, newlyweds Tom and Helen Ansell, who also attended the s%C3%A9ance, travel to the depressed mining town of Durham to unmask another trickster spiritualist, Eustace Flask, who's preying on Helen's spinster aunt. In addition, Tom seeks to obtain an affidavit from wily magician Sebastian Marmont on the provenance of Sebastian's Lucknow Dagger, a "weapon with a mind of its own," which appears to be the murder weapon when a corpse is found near the town cathedral. A gripping resolution will leave readers eager for the next installment. (June)