The Durham Deception

( 1 )

Overview

Second in the gripping new 19th century ‘Cathedral’ murder mystery series from the acclaimed author of the ‘Nick Revill’ mysteries - For the newly-weds Tom and Helen Ansell life is no honeymoon, as they are drawn into a murky underworld of Victorian spiritualism and stage magic when they’re sent on a mission to the stunning cathedral city of Durham. Not only must they investigate Helen’s Aunt Julia, who has mysteriously fallen for a medium, but also solve the riddle of the sinister Lucknow dagger. Until suddenly ...

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The Durham Deception

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Overview

Second in the gripping new 19th century ‘Cathedral’ murder mystery series from the acclaimed author of the ‘Nick Revill’ mysteries - For the newly-weds Tom and Helen Ansell life is no honeymoon, as they are drawn into a murky underworld of Victorian spiritualism and stage magic when they’re sent on a mission to the stunning cathedral city of Durham. Not only must they investigate Helen’s Aunt Julia, who has mysteriously fallen for a medium, but also solve the riddle of the sinister Lucknow dagger. Until suddenly things go from bad to worse when a body turns up and Helen herself is accused of murder.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Deceit, revenge, and murder drive Gooden's absorbing second cathedral mystery set in Victorian England (after 2008's The Salisbury Manuscript). At a séance at the forbidding London residence of medium Ernest Smight, one of the participants reveals himself to be an undercover policeman and accuses Smight of fraud. Smight later throws himself off Waterloo Bridge, setting off a relentless campaign of vengeance by a sinister figure known only as "Doctor Tony." Meanwhile, newlyweds Tom and Helen Ansell, who also attended the séance, travel to the depressed mining town of Durham to unmask another trickster spiritualist, Eustace Flask, who's preying on Helen's spinster aunt. In addition, Tom seeks to obtain an affidavit from wily magician Sebastian Marmont on the provenance of Sebastian's Lucknow Dagger, a "weapon with a mind of its own," which appears to be the murder weapon when a corpse is found near the town cathedral. A gripping resolution will leave readers eager for the next installment. (June)
Booklist
Tom and Helen Ansell, introduced (but not yet married) in 2008's The Salisbury Manuscript, return for a second round of Victorian mystery-solving. Tom, a lawyer, is assigned the job of obtaining an affidavit from Major Marmont, a stage magician, concerning the provenance of a valuable dagger; at the same time, Helen's mother asks Helen to find out whether Eustace Flask, a so-called psychic, is the real deal or a charlatan. Soon Tom and Helen are investigating the death of another psychic, who died under suspicious circumstances, and Helen finds that she has become a murder suspect. Rich in character and period detail (but without being too pushy about it), the novel, like its predecessor, offers a definite change of pace from the author's Elizabethan-era Nick Revill mysteries, but readers of that series will note the same frisky spirit and playful writing style here. Further stories featuring the Ansells would be most welcome…
Library Journal
The fascination with magicians, conjurers, and mediums in Victorian England brings newlyweds Tom and Helen Ansell to their second case (after The Salisbury Manuscripts). Helen's spinster aunt is about to fall victim to a medium's scam, and Helen's mother asks Helen to go check on the situation in Durham. Concurrently, Tom's law firm wants him to take a disposition from a client, a magician in possession of an exotic item from India; the magician just happens to be in Durham as well. The couple find plenty of intrigue and a bit of danger in this puzzler that shows us how the magic's done but demonstrates that solving a murder goes beyond hidden doors and sleight of hand. VERDICT This second entry in Gooden's historical series is cleverly plotted and nicely structured in five acts. The cathedral plays a minor role, but this reviewer looks forward to seeing where the couple is headed next.
Kirkus Reviews

The Victorian fascination with spiritualism leads to murder in this second adventure for a newlywed couple (The Salisbury Manuscript, 2008).

London law clerk Thomas Ansell and his bride Helen are dubious of the fashion for the occult, but they gamely attend a seance to see for themselves. Their skepticism only increases when the medium, Ernest Smight, is caught red-handed and arrested as a fraud. Helen regrets her harsh stance when she reads of Smight's suicide, but her resolve is sharpened upon learning that her spinster aunt, Julia Howlett, has been taken in by one of these charlatans. By coincidence, Aunt Julia lives in Durham, where Thomas is sent to take an affidavit from Major Sebastian Marmont, a stage magician whose Oriental curios are the subject of dark speculation. Thomas and Helen head north to make Aunt Julia see reason and to formally record the truth about the Lucknow Dagger. Upon their arrival, Aunt Julia's pet spiritualist, Eustace Flask, puts on an impressive show—so impressive that even when Major Marmont exposes Flask's tricks, Julia maintains her faith in him. Whatever Flask's skills, they aren't enough to protect him. Helen finds his body with the throat slashed and, hysterical, is taken to gaol. She's soon released after a parcel arrives at the police station containing an unsigned confession and the murder weapon: the Lucknow Dagger. Thomas must protect his client and his wife by getting to the bottom of the matter via a dashing last-minute rescue.

Interesting depictions of magic shows and seances consistently upstage generic characters with weak motives.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780727869951
  • Publisher: Severn House
  • Publication date: 5/1/2011
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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