cover image Hell Bay

Hell Bay

Will Thomas. Minotaur, $25.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-07795-0

Godolphin Island, one of the Scilly isles off the tip of Cornwall, provides the isolated setting for Thomas’s uneven eighth Victorian mystery (after 2015’s Anatomy of Evil). Private detective Cyrus Barker and his sidekick, Thomas Llewelyn, set out for the island at the request of Lord Hargrave, who works for the Royal United Service Institution, which monitors other countries both politically and militarily. Hargrave is to meet with the French ambassador on Godolphin Island to try to resolve tensions between Britain and France over their respective African colonies. To keep the meeting secret, Hargrave has arranged a house party at his estate, and he retains Barker and Llewelyn to provide security for the ambassador. But soon after the detectives’ arrival, a sniper fatally shoots Hargrave, and more shooting deaths follow at regular intervals. Despite the dramatic setup, Thomas fails to build much suspense, largely because there are numerous victims with only sketchy personalities. Many readers will identify the culprit early on. [em]Agent: Maria Carvainis, Maria Carvainis Agency. (Oct.) [/em]