The Detective Lavender series is based on the real 19th century detective, Stephen Lavender. The books are written by one of his descendants and are fictional accounts of his investigations, with details taken from newspaper accounts of his work.
Detective Lavender is a principal investigator for the Bow Street magistrates office. The Bow Street Runners, as they were known, were England’s first professional, organized police force, as the London Metropolitan Police wasn’t created until 1839 (thanks Wikipedia). As a principal investigator, Detective Lavender investigated kidnappings and murders all over the country, with the local district paying a fee to Bow Street. In the books, Lavender is aided by his trusted companion and best friend, Constable Ned Woods.
The books aren’t the coziest of cozies, more Agatha Christie in tone than Janet Evanovich. But they are wonderful. The writing is superb, allowing the reader to see, and sometimes smell, England in the early 1800s. The characters are likable, although not very complex.
Death at the Frost Fair
A Detective Lavender short story
In February 1814, the Thames froze over, allowing for a Frost Fair. Amidst the food vendors and carnival shows, a dead body is found face-down on an iceberg. Lavender and Woods must find the murder, while also looking for a missing man.
This was an interesting short story. I’ve been curious about the Frost Fairs ever since I saw a Doctor Who episode about them. The passage with Woods taking his wife and kids to the fair was charming. I love Ned’s wife! Honestly, I want to be friends with the whole Woods family. The missing man and murder were fine.
The Willow Marsh Murder
Detective Lavender book 6
In September 1813, Lavender and Woods are sent to investigate a reported murder at the isolated estate of Willow Marsh near Ely. They quickly realize they’ve met the family before, when they helped convict one of its members for the rape and murder of a young woman ten years earlier. The sense of danger is heightened when they realize the woman who reported the murder left the estate to move to America twenty years earlier. Upon arriving, Lavender and Woods are trapped at the estate for the night, due to it being on a tidal island. Will our intrepid duo survive the night?
I loved this book! Definitely my favorite Detective Lavender novel. The island estate and crazy aristo family were super creepy. The author created a wonderful sense of tension and danger. As always, her descriptions were vivid so I could clearly see the house, marshes, and windmills in my mind’s eye. On top of it all, just a fabulous mystery.