THE BLACK COUNTRY (Scotland Yard's Murder Squad #2)
Rawhead and Bloody Bones
Steals naughty children from their homes,
Takes them to his dirty den,
And they are never seen again.
The village of Blackhampton is truly the "Black Country" of the title. Not only is it covered in coal dust; it is slowly dying and actually sinking into the earth. Over the years so many tunnels have been dug under the village homes and businesses in pursuit of coal it is only a matter of time until the earth reclaims it. The villagers are uncooperative and steeped in superstition. They, and we, know that there is more to the disappearances than meets the eye. Half the village and more has been stricken with disease since the Prices went missing, and on top of that- there is a strange man lurking around the village- one who closely resembles the bogeyman, "Rawhead and Bloody Bones".
The Black Country is rich in mystery, history and village characters. Inspector Day is a "straight arrow" who has a self-deprecating manner and a real gift for getting to the bottom of the human motivations in a case. Sargeant Hammersmith is prickly, opinionated and absolutely dedicated to the pursuit of justice. By the time the case is solved they have overcome challenges of biblical proportions. My only quibbles are a couple of plot holes that are never fully resolved, or even noticed by Day and Hammersmith. I was so caught up that I barely noticed until I had completely finished the book.
I am looking forward to the next installment in the series; hopefully it will be back in London. This visit to the provinces was engrossing, but I would like to see more of 1890's London and Dr. Kingsley. Be warned, The Black Country is a real page-turner.
RATING- 4 Stars