Title: The Pickwick Murders (A Dickens of a Crime #4)
Author: Heather Redmond
Published on: 26 October 2021
Genre: Historical Mystery
The Pickwick Murders is the fourth book in Heather Redmond’s A Dickens of a Crime historical mystery series.
Just weeks before the release of his first book, Charles Dickens is invited to join the prestigious Lightning Club. He’s called in for an initiation ceremony late in the night. He meets Tracy Yupman, an esteemed member of the club. Yupman gives Charles a task – he has to get to the center of a nautilus maze (present in the building) and prove himself a worthy candidate. But when Charles reaches the center of the maze, he finds a dead body – it is that of Samuel Pickwick, the president of the Lightning Club.
When Charles traces his way back to the hall, he finds himself in front of Yupman and two constables. Yupman accuses Charles of killing the Club’s president. A few days ago before, Charles had written critically about a member of parliament. Does this have to do something with him being wrongfully accused of committing a crime?
I have mixed opinions about Heather Redmond’s The Pickwick Murders. I really liked the concept of Charles Dickens as an amateur sleuth. We also have his fiancé Kate accompanying him on his sleuthing adventures. Since Charles spends most of his time behind bars in this book, we have only Kate doing her best to save her fiancé from being wrongfully accused and hanged to death. But yes, there are mentions of their previous adventures – and we also have a spot of ‘blast from the past’ in the second half of the story.
The story begins on an interesting note. Charles Dickens works as a reporter at the Morning Chronicle (owned by Kate’s father) and is asked to report on an Eatenswill election campaign. At the election campaign, Charles witnesses an altercation between a Mr. Poor and the politician contesting in the elections, Sir Augustus Smirke. Poor accuses Sir Smirke of kidnapping his young daughter. When Charles publishes his views on the Morning Chronicle, he gains a lot of attention – good and the bad.
Charles receives an invite to the prestigious Lightning Club and is called late in the night for an initiation. But little did Charles know that he would end up in the gaol hours later! Kate, his fiancé receives mysterious letter, asking her to meet the author of the letter – on failing to meet his ‘demands’, her fiancé (Charles) will be brutally harmed. There also comes a time when the mysterious letter writer threatens Kate’s family…
Overall, this was an okay read. The story didn’t live up to my expectations. The story goes a little off-track with the mysterious letters – which sent Kate on a wild goose chase! There’s also the case of the missing girl – Amy Poor – which takes a backseat while Kate is busy with the letters and Charles in the jail, trying to survive.
The story did not pique my interest. If the spotlight had been on finding the missing girl and then finding the link between the mysterious letters and the murder, I might have liked the story better. The character portrayal is okay. Overall, the story didn’t have a very Victorian feel to it.
I received an ARC from Kensington Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.