Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Book Review: Murder at Half Moon Gate by Andrea Penrose

Murder at Half Moon Gate
Author: Andrea Penrose
Series: A Wrexford and Sloane Mystery (Book 2)
Publication: Kensington (March 27, 2018)

Description: A wealthy lord who happens to be a brilliant scientist . . . an enigmatic young widow who secretly pens satirical cartoons . . . a violent killing disguised as a robbery . . . Nothing is as it seems in Regency London, especially when the Earl of Wrexford and Charlotte Sloane join forces to solve a shocking murder.

When Lord Wrexford discovers the body of a gifted inventor in a dark London alley, he promptly alerts the watchman and lets the authorities handle the matter. But Wrexford soon finds himself drawn into the murder investigation when the inventor’s widow begs for his assistance, claiming the crime was not a random robbery. It seems her husband’s designs for a revolutionary steam-powered engine went missing the night of his death. The plans could be worth a fortune . . . and very dangerous in the wrong hands.

Joining Wrexford in his investigation is Charlotte Sloane, who uses the pseudonym A. J. Quill to publish her scathing political cartoons. Her extensive network of informants is critical for her work, but she doesn’t mind tapping that same web of spies to track down an elusive killer. Each suspect—from ambitious assistants to rich investors, and even the inventor’s widow—is entwined in a maze of secrets and lies that leads Wrexford and Sloane down London’s most perilous stews and darkest alleyways.

With danger lurking at every turn, the potent combination of Wrexford’s analytical mind and Sloane’s exacting intuition begins to unravel the twisted motivations behind the inventor’s death. But they are up against a cunning and deadly foe—a killer ready to strike again before they can recover the inventor’s priceless designs . . .

My Thoughts: In the second Wrexford and Sloane mystery, Wrexford and Charlotte investigate the death of inventor Elihu Ashton who is about to patent a revolutionary new steam engine. Wrexford is approached by the lovely widow of the inventor. Wrexford had corresponded with him about a problem Ashton was having with his boilers. Wrexford and his friend Sheffield had stumbled on Ashton's body as they were taking a shortcut through a dangerous part of town but didn't know who the victim was.

Charlotte has been busying herself with a series of satirical cartoons about the current conflict between the new inventions and the workers who are being put out of work by them. She is also getting ready to move, along with her two young wards Raven and Hawk, to a more genteel part of town. She fears that as she has more contact with the gentility, her own deeply buried secrets of her past will be revealed. She is being assisted by her friend Jeremy, Lord Sterling, who has emptied some of his attics to help her furnish her new place which makes her feel indebted.

Wrexford and Charlotte have a number of suspects including the inventor's secretary and assistant, all the investors in his invention, and even his lovely widow. When it is discovered that Lord Sterling is one of the investors and went to school with Ashton's assistant, Charlotte becomes even more determined to figure out who murdered Ashton and clear her friend's name.

I loved the period detail. I also loved the growing relationship between Charlotte and Wrexford which can certainly change both of their lives. One of the major themes of this story was change and it was shown from the personal to the societal. This was an excellent mystery which made good use of the history of the time.

Favorite Quote:
"If they're innocent, they've nothing to fear."

Charlotte let out an exasperated huff. "We both know it's not that simple, milord. Everyone has secrets they would prefer to keep buried. Suspicion wields an eager spade. It cares not where it digs, as log as it's turning up dirt."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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