Saturday, November 7, 2020

ARC Review: Absence of Mercy by S. M. Goodwin

Absence of Mercy

S. M. Goodwin
Series: A Lightner and Law Mystery
Publication: Crooked Lane Books (November 10, 2020)

Description: A string of grisly murders in Pre-Civil War New York propels an unlikely pair of detectives into a deadly tinderbox in S. M. Goodwin's debut novel, a sure hit for fans of Will Thomas and C. S. Harris.

Jasper Lightner is a decorated Crimean War hero and the most admired inspector in London's Metropolitan Police. Along with a chest full of medals, he's got a head injury that's left large chunks of his memory missing. But Jasper's biggest problem is his father, the Duke of Kersey, who, enraged by a series of front-page newspaper stories extolling Jasper's exploits, decides he's had enough of the embarrassment and uses his political connections to keep his son out of the headlines--and off the police force.

Jasper is sent packing to New York City on a year-long assignment to train detectives, and discovers a police department hovering on the brink of armed conflict. Assigned to investigate the murder of philanthropist and reformer Stephen Finch, Jasper joins forces with a man who might be even more of an outsider than he is: Hieronymus Law, a detective who had investigated two almost identical killings--and who is rumored to have taken money to help frame an innocent woman for murder.

Law is bent on restoring his good name. But can Jasper trust Hy enough to bring him into the investigation? As the city devolves into madness and law enforcement falls into the hands of dangerous gangs, this unlikely team has no choice but to work together to pursue an adversary more sinister than either has faced alone.

My Thoughts: It's 1857 and Lord Jasper Lightner finds himself in New York ostensibly to train New York City detectives to follow the new scientific methods used in England. But the police force in New York City is rife with corruption and Lord Jasper finds that no one wants him there. 

There have been a series of murders of wealthy men found outside bordellos. Jasper is given this case with only the assistance of a NYC Detective that he first has to free from The Tombs where he was sent by jealous colleagues. Hieronymus Law couldn't be more different. He was raised in an orphanage after the death of his parents and grandmother. Jasper is the son of a Duke which means he was raised in wealth privilege. But his life wasn't easy. He has a stammer that he was tortured by various tutors and quack physicians to get rid of. He was also despised by his father likely because the Duke's wife was probably unfaithful making him someone else's son. Add in that he inherited a lot of money from an aunt which makes him financially independent of his father who wanted the money to shore up his estates.

Jasper was also wounded while he was in the Armed Forces and took part in the Charge of the Light Brigade memorialized by Tennyson. Jasper was left with a bad knee and a head injury that gives him massive headaches and has made a hole in his memory. 

Despite all the obstacles in his path, he is determined to find out who murdered the men. He soon finds himself in the middle of a complicated conspiracy not knowing who he can trust. The story is filled with interesting characters from corrupt politicians to the widows of the murder victims to prostitutes of all sorts. 

The story was very much steeped in the corruption in New York City and the growing tensions in the leadup to the Civil War. Lord Jasper uses his talents including his martial arts training to uncover all the mysteries here.

I enjoyed this story and am eager to read more about this new detective duo and the cases they are given.

Favorite Quote:
Davies had been insulting, combative, and rude--three behaviors Jasper abhorred. They were also three behaviors guaranteed to bring out his contrarianism. If Davies had wanted to be rid of him, he's gone about it the wrong way.

I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a series with potential, thanks for sharing your thoughts


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