cover image The Revenge of Captain Paine

The Revenge of Captain Paine

Andrew Pepper. Orion Publishing Group,, $16.95 (534pp) ISBN 978-0-7538-2400-9

Set in 1835, the superb sequel to Pepper's The Last Days of Newgate (Reviews, May 18) finds Pyke, a former Bow Street Runner, turned semirespectable London banker. Tory leader Robert Peel asks Pyke to look into the murder of an unidentified, beheaded corpse at a time when a radical organizer calling himself Captain Paine is fomenting unrest among the working classes. Pyke's probe reveals a possible connection between the killing and the machinations of a railroad magnate, Edward James Morris, who seeks to derail a competitor. After Morris dies, evidence that Pyke made a substantial loan to Morris disappears, leaving Pyke under suspicion of fraud. Unusually for a historical, this mystery portrays brutal scenes of merciless violence, including some dished out by Pyke himself, more typical of hard-boiled PI yarns. Pepper's successful planting of diverse narrative threads\x97and making them all bear fruit\x97marks him as an author to watch. (July)