A Broken Vessel (A Julian Kestrel Mystery)by Kate Ross
In London's notorious Haymarket district, Sally Stokes, a bold and bewitching Cockney prostitute, 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
JULIAN KESTREL STALKS A DIABOLICAL KILLER THROUGH HIGH PLACES AND LOW LIFE IN REGENCY LONDON
In London's notorious Haymarket district, Sally Stokes, a bold and bewitching Cockney prostitute, 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 plea for help from a distraught young woman.
Luckily, Sally's brother is none other than Dipper, reformed pickpocket and valet to gifted amateur sleuth Julian Kestrel. After the writer of the letter is found dead, the authorities dismiss her death as suicide. But to Kestrel it looks like murder, and he forms an unlikely - but highly entertaining - alliance with Sally to track down the three clients. The two embark on a quest that leads them from a house of reclamation for fallen women to the abodes of England's highest-ranking families as they race to unmask a dangerous killer.
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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.