Garden of Sins: A Victorian Mystery

Laura Joh Rowland. Crooked Lane, $26.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-64385-794-7
At the start of Rowland’s convoluted sixth Victorian mystery (after 2021’s Portrait of Peril), crime scene photographer Sarah Bain and her new husband, Det. Sgt. Thomas Barrett, are riding the London underground in November 1890 when their train derails. In helping to rescue the injured, they discover a strangled corpse. The victim is New Yorker Katherine Oliver, a Pinkerton agent in Britain searching for a vanished American heiress. The photographs on Oliver’s state-of-the-art Kodak camera were taken at the Cremorne Gardens, a derelict London pleasure park, and one depicts Prince Eddy, Queen Victoria’s libidinous grandson. Bain and Barrett discover that three former circus performers offering new attractions at the Cremorne have falsified their names and histories, while the prince’s visits to the site using a false name suggest that scandal awaits the royal family. Meanwhile, Bain also faces Barrett’s entanglement with his former fiancée and the trial of her father for a rape and murder she worries he did indeed commit. The development and denouement of the myriad story lines can feel confusing, hasty, and implausible. This jumbled outing isn’t Rowland’s best. Agent: Pam Ahearn, Ahearn Agency. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 10/21/2021
Release date: 01/11/2022
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
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