Inspector of the Dead: David Morrell
Revenge can be depicted or enacted in many different ways and for many reasons. The avenger or person seeking to avenge a wrong doing or something he/she feels needs vindicating, will enact a punishment that they feel fits the crime so to speak. Inspector of the Dead focuses on a young Irish boy whose family was destroyed, rendered helpless and was at the mercy of some heartless people. With his mother wrongly accused of stealing a simple shirt, imprisoned in Newgate Prison, this young boy harbored his anger until he could not longer control it. Inspector of the Dead is not only about seeking vengeance and retribution but about disloyalties, betrayals, deceits, competition and jealousies that would plague not just this young man but many of the other characters too. As the story opens a young man is about to rob an elderly gentlemen but winds up at the other end of this man’s walking stick and offered an opportunity to make some coins and join a organization whose goal was to destroy and obliterate the monarch or kill Queen Victoria. Whether it is Simple Justice or an eye for an eye, or Honor Killing revenge this story runs the gambit for just about every kind of murder as this young man infiltrates the upper class working his way into their good graces and manages to pull off murders in plain sight.
A scene in a church that will keep readers on the edge of their seats as Lady Cosgrove enters her pew hides her face from everyone but the Vicar does not communicate with those with her and somehow winds up dead. Emily and Thomas DeQuincey enter the same church along with Detective Sergeant Becker and Inspector Detective Ryan asking to enter and be allowed to use Lord Palmerston’s pew. The service begins but not before a young figure comes into view: Colonel Anthony Trask just returning from the Crimea along with a beautiful young lady named Catherine Grantwood who helped divert attention from what happened next. Whether it was sleight of hand or a magician’s trick, the scene changes, blood appears and what looks like a murder happened in front of praying eyes. The author graphically describes the scene and the events will leave readers stymied. As the scene unfolds, the murder is revealed and the players are in place Colonel Trask takes control of the congregation as Becker and Ryan try to find out what happened. But, Thomas DeQuincey might always have the bottle of laudanum at hand taking undiscovered sips, his powers of reasoning; deduction and investigative prowess far surpass that of the others. Although called “the Opium Eater,” along with his daughter Emily who reappears in this novel, together they present quite a formidable adversary for our killer. Never shying away from the blood and gore, Emily along with the two detectives manage to take charge, inform the Queen despite Lord Parlmerston’s objections. Things point to someone behind the murder, as the police learn that Lady Cosgrove’s husband and servants were also brutally killed and her murder in the church anything but what really happened. The truth behind these murders and those to come result in someone wanting to rid the world of anyone that did not help him when his father, mother and two sisters were in need of doctors, lawyers and aid.
Someone has orchestrated a huge cover up targeting the attempted assassination of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The network behind this is known as Young England and the person who created them as a real dissident group you might say you won’t believe. As the first person Edward Oxford is revealed since his name appears on a note left at the first murder scene, the second murder of a Judge and then an attempt on Commissioner Mayne and his family, leads readers to understand that these attempts are real, that someone is out to create havoc and fear in the minds and hearts of the people of London. Upper class members of any rank are targeted and the avenger or revenger takes pride in his work. Messages are left at each murder and some of the victims as you will read on page 215 tell a story just from what is left, the way they are killed and the positioning of the body. It cannot be discounted that many at first did not want Albert as the second in line but circumstances changed their perception and events brought him into a favorable light until the war ended poorly, Lord and Lady Grantwood and Catherine were killed, and the killer’s hatred so strong that no one felt safe. Within the palace walls the Queen and Prince were not even safe as a killer is revealed, the reasons told and the life of the Queen’s son at risk as Emily, her father, the two detectives and the royal family are at held at the mercy of a deranged killer. But, first we learn more about the rivalry between Trask and Sir Walter Cumberland and their vying for the hand of Catherine Grantwood. Swords and walking sticks pointed, blood and gashes, fights and arguments heard and two men appear to be fighting over one woman and the truth behind their reasons will surprise readers.
Within this novel we hear the distinct voice of Emily DeQuincey who relates to readers by sharing her journal her thoughts on many of the events that transpired. As events become clear and one man is injured Emily shares her father’s thoughts about the murderer, her part when the youngest child of the Queen is threatened, when the palace lamps are shut off and the end result will bring out two sides of someone and the hidden truth behind why this person is so against the Queen, why he committed the murders and why he keeps saying that no one would help his sisters, mother and father which created a rage within him that never died. Added in we learn more about Emily, her relationship with Detective Sergeant Becker as we hear them discuss the possibility of becoming closer and her reasons for not wanting to make any commitment to him or anyone else. As we learn more about her relationship with her father it seems that he is the most important man in her life, she will not forsake him for anyone else and it appears that she cannot accept anyone else as yet in her life. Stating she might want to become nurse she was surprised at Becker’s response. Acceptance, independence, love, understanding and trust are just some of the issues tested within this complex novel.
A scene so dramatic within the Throne Room of the Palace will send chills down your spine, fear within your heart and prayers for the Monarch. As the young prince is threatened Emily chances and risks it all to try and reason with a killer who seems fascinated with her blue eyes. Just what she reveals, how she attempts to safe the day will hopefully endear her with the royal family, allow her to remain close to Becker and give her father the ability to reveal even more. As a reporter named Russell reveals facts from the Crimea the author leaves us wondering just what is next and if the killer will ever be found.
Told in many different voices author David Morrell delivers a story true to life with real events bringing back a time period that the people of London will never forget and spotlighting a Monarch named Victoria who was so greatly loved. Imagine going out everyday in public, greeting the people and not worrying about her safety. As we get to know her better and the history behind Prince Albert you the reader will decide if the accolades were deserved.
From murders, to a pub where the beer and gin was doctored and many imagined creatures and monsters in front of them, a deadly fight breaks out and another murder takes the stage. But, the sad part is the way society treats those less fortunate by turning their backs on the needy, the starving and small children sentencing them to death which is you listen closely to words and thoughts of the killer might help you understand his plight and his reasoning. This is the Victorian Age and morals, mores, etiquette and class distinctions play a vital role on how people are treated. Money and social status determines human worth and each character expresses this in different ways. When you hear Edward Oxford speak from his cell in the madhouse, learn more about the others that went after the Queen you begin to see the tragedy behind it all. When those at the top turn their back on those that need it what happens is that four Irish immigrants, one surviving young child forms his own vigilante committee and kills dozens of people in murders so perfectly planned that no one sees them coming nor can figure out how they were enacted. Who is behind the secret society called “Young England.” Who is the person that so masterfully created this society instilling fear in the public and causing them to lose confidence in the government? Is what happened real or is it another person’s manipulation?
Thomas DeQuincey is smart, astute and will reveal it all as the author creates an ending that is just really the beginning of what happens next as more than one killer is caught but in different ways and the end result will surprise readers. Just who is this killer and what lies did he perpetrate to infiltrate the trust of so many? What happened that led him to gain so much power and why did he turn on the one person that gave him more than he deserved? Make sure you read the Afterword to learn more about the time period, Edward Oxford and his time in Bedlam and what the author reveals about Inspector of the Dead as his version of a “specific type of Victorian novel.” Learn more when you read this outstanding novel. Inspector of the Dead: Gets FIVE GOLDEN BLUE EYES!
Fran Lewis: Reviewer