Death at the Jesus Hospital is one of our favorite titles from David Dickinson, the Irish author of Lord Francis Powerscourt series. With a first-class degree in Classics from Cambridge, he worked in British television (BBC) for many years and was the editor of Newsnight and Panorama as well as Monarchy. He now divides his time between Somerset and France writing his notable historical mysteries. Death at the Jesus Hospital is his latest work released by Soho Press.
A Brief Summary:
Three men are found with their throats cut, and all are connected in some way to an ancient City of London livery company, the Silkworkers.
Victim Number One was Abel Meredith, resident in the Jesus Hospital Almshouse near London, controlled by the Silkworkers. Victim Number Two was Roderick Gill, Bursar of Allison’s School in Norfolk, also controlled by the Silkworkers. Victim Number Three was a former Prime Warden of the Silkworkers, Sir Rufus Walcott, slain in his own Hall by the Thames.
Lord Powerscourt has no shortage of suspects or suspicions. The first victim had shadowy links with the Secret Service. The second had wiped fifteen years out of his own past. The third, a man who collected women at church during Christmas Carol services, had been threatened by angry husbands and disinherited sons.
All the victims had been opposed to the reorganization of the Silkworkers’ finances and, interestingly, Sir Peregrine Fishborne, the head of the Silkworkers, was present just before each victim’s death. Lord knows that the key to solving the mystery lies in the strange markings found on the bodies, which no coroners can identify.
This is as close as you can get to Agatha Christie. Dickinson’s latest work was particularly appealing to us as he fully exploits the historical context of late 19th and early 20th century to bring a well-researched and absorbing storyline to the readers.
I appreciated the important, but concise, background information about the organization of the holding companies such as the Silkworkers and side stories on the British battles in South Africa.
The plot was very clever and there is a very good balance of anticipation, horror and the revelations along with several segments where the main characters hypothesize on the motives of murder. The ending was satisfactory and was done in the same fashion as the Golden Age mysteries of 1930s and 1940s.
Readers with an interest in British history will enjoy this new novel as well as other titles in this series.
Our Rating: 5.0
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