The Mangle Street Murders

The Mangle Street Murders by MRC Kasasian, The Gower St. Detective #1

Gower Street, London, 1882: Sidney Grice, London's most famous personal detective, is expecting a visitor. He drains his fifth pot of morning tea, and glances outside, where a young, plain woman picks her way between the piles of horse-dung towards his front door. Sidney Grice shudders. For heaven's sake - she is wearing brown shoes. 

March Middleton is Sidney Grice's ward, and she is determined to help him on his next case. Her guardian thinks women are too feeble for detective work, but when a grisly murder in the slums proves too puzzling for even Sidney Grice's encyclopaedic brain, March Middleton turns out to be rather useful after all...

I have been trying to read other genres besides the standard science fiction and fantasy genre. One that I was and still am eager to explore is crime. Fictional crime offers a lot of possibilities from the current day and age to the past. And one of the most famous detectives out there is Sherlock Holmes. The Mangle Street Murders takes place in the same Victorian era, but focuses on a complete new detective duo, Grice and Middleton. Say goodbye to Holmes and Watson and get acquainted to a these new detectives. The Mangle Street Murders is Martin Kasasian's first book and also feature as the first in The Gower St. Detective Series. 

There are already plenty of books set in the Victorian age from the occasional detective to the supernatural and steampunk books. In my opinion, it must be hard to write a book set in such an established age and especially to come up with something new and interesting. Though Martin Kasasian has written an detective in the Victorian age it does feel like something new and is, when taken on the whole, an interesting first book. Not only does he introduces you to a new detective duo, he also gives a spin to the classic crime theme. The plot is far from straightforward. It's riddled with twists and turns, witty banter and some darker Gothic Victorian themes. 

Let's start with the new detectives. Up first is Sidney Grice. This man is quite a piece of work. He is what you can easily relate to as a gentleman. Walking with his cane, top hat and in a suit. He is everything what you can expect from someone in the Victorian era. His personality isn't also one without it's quirks. Let me just say upfront that Sidney Grice is in many aspects quite different from Sherlock Holmes. He is similarly quick witted, observable and fast with his words contrary to this is that he only does work when a payment is in order and he somehow seeks his personal gains in everything he does. And though he is pretty smart, the ending proves that he does not always capture the criminal. This was a part that mainly set this story apart, but I will get to that. Secondly there is March Middleton. March is young girl who travels to London to become Sidney Grice's ward. March is just like Sidney an interesting character. She is a female in the Victorian age and we all know that women were all thought to be second rank. There is a strong division of tasks among the characters in the books and women are placed on the second ranks, but March proves or at least tries to go against this image. It feels like she is a rebel, smoking the occasional cigarette and drinking a class of gin. March wants to proof herself not only to Sidney that she is a valuable partner but also want to proof to herself. Both of them are nicely fleshed out and one many parts think alike but on others are quite in opposite directions, this allowed space for the occasional disagreement and fight. But all in all the interplay between Sidney and March is great to read about especially when you see their odd peculiarities shine through!

The eccentric cast, Sidney and March already proved to produce an interesting story but the storyline is also where The Mangle Street Murders draws a strength from. The storyline is far from a direct cause-effect murder investigation. From the beginning of the investigation there are many possible candidates opted and during their investigation Sidney and March are in for quite a few surprises and as a reader you are as well. Martin Kasasian does a great job in telling how the investigation is going down and how Sidney and March are both gathering clues and drawing their preliminary conclusions. I really got drawn into their investigation and how they related several events to different people was straightforward and as you might expect on how this would go. But the reality, once you learn the who's and the why's behind the story you will feel shocked. Martin Kasasian managed to create the perfect setting to the storyline, drawing you into the story but leading you partly astray as well, the curve ball really comes when you learn who actually murdered it. And what makes it for me just this bit more interesting is that Sidney isn't an all known, all solving kind of personal detective. Yes he is clever but even he can draw the the short end of the straw. Telling the story with this in the background created an interesting perspective. 

The Mangle Street Murders is a interesting new introduction to the established Victorian crime scene. The new detective duo, Sidney Grice and March Middleton provide a fresh new view on criminal investigation. They are both clever but also aren't without their flaws and peculiar habits. The story that they tell is smart, engaging and most interesting, Martin Kasasian writes with a definite confidence and knows how to create an intricate investigation. You will be thinks what!? as soon as you find out who if the murder! With this great new investigative duo and a perfect first investigation Martin Kasasian sets the mood for his series just right. Forget Holmes and Watson and start reading about Grice and Middleton! The second book in the series: The Curse of the House of Foskett is out June 2014!

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