Saturday, April 26, 2014

Atmospheric Romp through Victorian London with Barker and Llewellyn


FATAL ENQUIRY (Barker and Llewellyn #6)
Will Thomas
St. Martins Minotaur
May 13, 2014

Some years ago I read the first Barker and Llewellyn mystery, Some Danger Involved, and had every intention of following the series but somehow lost track of it. I guess that is the result of having a TBR pile of monumental proportions! When Fatal Enquiry popped up on netgalley I remembered how much I enjoyed it and jumped right in. 

Cyrus Barker and his assistant, Thomas Llewellyn, are descendants of the the original sleuthing duo, Holmes and Watson. It is the difference between the pairs that make Barker and Llewellyn so interesting. Cyrus Barker is very much a self-made man and world traveler. Raised in China, Barker is very large, scarred and spends hours in physical training and martial arts. He knows everyone in London from the lowest to the highest, is immensely rich, secretive about how he gained his riches, and religious in a very muscular way. Thomas is  young still, about 20 years old at the time of this book, scholarly and clever, with a murky past. The two are Private Enquiry Agents.

In Fatal Enquiry, the villain of Some Danger Involved, Sebastian Nightwine, has returned to England with a plan to invade Tibet and the mythical Shambala and extend the British Empire. Somehow he has gained the protection of both the Foreign Office and Scotland Yard, despite his criminal past. Cyrus Barker is having none of that however. The two immediately cross swords and it appears that Nightwine has the upper hand. Cyrus and Thomas have to go on the run, accused of murder with a price on their heads. What follows is a fast paced adventure through London, one in which we learn much more about the shared history of Barker and Nightwine.

While I didn't remember many of the particulars of Some Danger Involved, I did recall the richness of both characters and atmosphere. Thomas has grown up quite a lot, is much more confident and a worthy assistant to Cyrus Barker who remains larger than life. The tone is dark at times but is as witty as I remember. This time I will be catching up on Barker and Llewellyn but I think Fatal Enquiry can be read as a stand-alone. I highly recommend the Barker and Llewellyn mysteries for historical mystery and adventure fans. Thanks to St. Martins and netgalley for an advance digital copy.

RATING- 4 Stars

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