A Broken Vesselby Kate Ross
No detection team was ever more mismatched: Julian Kestrel, the debonair and elegant Regency dandy, and Sally Stokes, a bold and bewitching Cockney prostitute and thief. But one night Fate throws them together, giving them the only clue that can unmask a diabolical killer. It all starts in London's notorious Haymarket district, where Sally picks up three men one after… See more details below
No detection team was ever more mismatched: Julian Kestrel, the debonair and elegant Regency dandy, and Sally Stokes, a bold and bewitching Cockney prostitute and thief. But one night Fate throws them together, giving them the only clue that can unmask a diabolical killer. It all starts in London's notorious Haymarket district, where Sally picks up three men one after the other and nicknames them Bristles, Blue Eyes, and Blinkers. From each of them Sally steals a handkerchief - and from one she mistakenly steals a letter that contains an urgent appeal for help as well. But which man did she get the letter from? Who is the distraught young woman who wrote it? And where is she being held against her will? These questions take on a new urgency when Sally finds the writer of the letter - dead. Luckily, Sally's brother is none other than Dipper, reformed pickpocket and now valet to gifted amateur sleuth Julian Kestrel. The authorities dismiss the girl's death as suicide, but to Kestrel it looks more like murder. To prove it, he must track down Bristles, Blue Eyes, and Blinkers, and find out which of them had the dead girl's letter. Sally uses all her ingenuity and daring to help Kestrel solve this case. But she is out to solve another mystery as well: Is there a man of flesh and blood under Kestrel's impeccable clothes?
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A friend introduced me to this book and I anxiously awaited the next title in the series - I would take a day off from work and turn the pages voraciously. They were excellent descriptions of the early 1800s and Julian Kestral wass smart, and engaging. I was heartbroken to learn of the author's passing after waiting and waiting for a new installment. She was a talented writer and I for one 'fully 10+ years after reading that first novel' miss her.
A Broken Vessel is part of the Julian Kestrel series. It's the first in the series I've read, and it won't be the last! Set in Regency or Dickens' Edwardian London, (there's a definite Dickensian feel), the plot involves the mysterious identity and circumstances surrounding the death of a young woman at a 'reformation house'. When Sally, a prostitute in London's seedy Haymarket, steals the handkerchieves of three of her 'clientele' one night, she also unintentionally steals a letter, which turns out to be an obviously heartfelt plea for help from a young woman. Shortly after, Sally runs into her brother, Dipper, a reformed pickpocket who is now valet to the high-class, gentlemanly sleuth, Julian Kestrel. The three, Sally, Dipper and Julian work together to discover the identity of the letter-writer. Unfortunately they discover her identity too late. They identify the letter-writer as a young inmate of a reformation house who was purported to have commited suicide, and who was using the anonymous name of Mary at the time of her death. Circumstances surrounding the purported suicide do not add up, and the three begin a determined effort to learn the truth about Mary's identity and her death. This was the best historical mystery I've yet read! It has a page-turning plot, vivid, sympathetic characters and is quite well-crafted. I will definitely be reading more of these Julian Kestrel mysteries. Sadly, the author passed away in 1998, so there are only four in the series.