1852. With the business of the Moonstone diamond finally laid to rest, Mr. Franklin Blake and his wife Rachel are now happily married, living in London, and blessed with a healthy baby daughter named Julia. Mr. Blake has taken his late father’s seat in Parliament, and his party’s fortunes are on the rise—in fact they are about to overthrow the coalition government of the day.
But then the inexplicable occurs. Miss Rachel and her elderly aunt are attacked in the street by a gang of feral children, whose only purpose, it seems, is to plant a photographic portrait of a young, rich Indian lad in the old lady’s handbag.
Enter the Blakes’ lawyer’s office boy, Octavius Guy—better known as Gooseberry—who once helped the family bring the mystery of the Moonstone to a close. Join Gooseberry, the fourteen-year-old Victorian boy detective, as he and his ragtag bunch of friends descend into London’s demi-monde and underworld to ferret out the truth, while spending as much of his employer’s money as they can along the way!
Based on characters from Wilkie Collins’s “The Moonstone”. First published in 2014 as a weekly serialization on Goodreads.
The time had come to own up to my past. I’d been thinking about how best to present it, and it seemed to me that what was called for here was a judicious mixture of remorse, honesty, and diffidence.
‘Though it shames me to say it,’ remorse, ‘there was no swifter, slipperier pickpocket in all of London,’ honesty, ‘than…well, me, miss—your humble servant—Octavius Guy.’ Diffidence dispensed in a generous measure.
Mrs. Blake burst out laughing.
‘Please, Mrs. Blake, it’s true.’
‘Gooseberry, you really mustn’t joke.’
‘I’m not joking, miss.’
‘I don’t believe it for a moment!’
Mr. Bruff gave a cautious lawyer’s cough that managed to get everyone’s attention. ‘He’s telling the truth,’ he said quietly, and shot Mrs. Blake a meaningful look.
‘But this is Gooseberry we’re talking about! Our Gooseberry! He’s no thief!’
‘If he’s telling us the truth, then I think he should be made to prove it,’ said Mr. Blake, a mischievous grin breaking out on his face that even his thick, black beard couldn’t hide. ‘I propose a challenge. Gooseberry, come and try to pick my pocket!’
‘Please, sir—I don’t want to pick your pocket.’
‘But I insist,’ he said, stepping closer and closer till there was barely a foot between us. With everyone watching (save for the good Mr. Bruff, whose features plainly registered his disapproval), Mr. Blake leaned forward so that our noses were practically touching. On reflex, I found myself stumbling backwards, a move that Mr. Blake took as a sign of defeat.
‘So much for the swiftest, slipperiest pickpocket in all of London,’ he laughed and, like a performer taking his curtain call, turned and bowed deeply to his wife.
‘Franklin, look,’ she advised him, pointing her finger at me.
Mr. Blake looked. His mouth dropped open. He stared, blinking in amazement, at the silver cigarette case in my hand.
Cover photograph “The Cheap Fish of St. Giles’s” by John Thomson.
Cover design by Negative Negative.
Published by Seventh Rainbow Publishing, London.
About the Author
Michael Gallagher is the author of two series of novels set in Victorian times. “Send for Octavius Guy” chronicles the attempts of fourteen-year-old Gooseberry—reformed master pickpocket—to become a detective, aided and abetted by his ragtag bunch of friends. “The Involuntary Medium” follows the fortunes of young Lizzie Blaylock, a girl who can materialize the spirits of the dead, as she strives to come to terms with her unique gift. For twenty-five years Michael taught adults with learning disabilities at Bede, a London-based charity that works with the local community. He now writes full time. Follow Octavius Guy @sendforOctavius. Author photo courtesy of Elaine Jeffs.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A Wonderful Read!!! I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this ebook through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers and I'm so glad because I absolutely loved it! The characters, derived from Wilkie Collins classic The Moonstone, really came to life for me, as did the Victorian Era during which the book is set. Octavius Guy, aka Gooseberry, is an especially interesting character. Taken under the wing of a wealthy and successful lawyer, Gooseberry proves his worth with his intelligence and intuitive detecting skills. Having been a successful pickpocket and member of London's underworld of crime prior to his rehabilitation at the hands of Mr. Bruff, Gooseberry is able to go places and talk to people in his former profession, learning things that his employer cannot, and using his knowledge of how criminals work and his past experience to his advantage. The case that Gooseberry and his employer become involved in is intriguing from the start. After being accosted by a group of children, usually a tactic to fluster and distract enabling one of the gang to steal something, an elderly woman finds that instead of something missing, she has acquired an unusual photo. Investigating the matter throws Gooseberry into a complex case involving a legendary diamond, a deposed Marajaha and a twisting plot of kidnapping, murder, romance and deception. Wanting to find out what happens next and how Octavius connects the clues he discovers kept me reading well into the night. The details and research Michael Gallagher has done to prepare for this book really shines through. I loved the characters (especially Bertha), and details about things like the Thames Tunnel, and the differences between the social classes of the time. Very well written and I am really looking forward to reading more books about Gooseberry!
This is a lovely cosy mystery which is set in the Victorian age. The main character who was himself once a pickpocket and now is working as a detective for a lawyer is draw back to work underground and is faced by his old nemeses as well as old friends. He has to solve a mystery which includes not only the underworld but also the upper-class as well the Queen and her husband. The spelling style is absolutely gorgeous because there are parts of street language as well as the proper English. (4 1/2 stars)
I read this as an ecopy .. Connect with the author on his social pages to see it and other images that will be even more interesting as you read this book. Gooseberry will appeal to all ages, from those who listen to it being read, perhaps age 8 and up, to readers of classic literature and mysteries. It has been a while since I read about the Moonstone, but knowing just a few basics is all you need to appreciate this story. Tthose basics are provided in this book. The Moonstone is an enormous diamond stolen from an Indian shrine. There are references to it as being how Gooseberyy, the hero of this novel, meets the other characters. Gooseberry's real name is Octavious. Before he came to his respectable employment, he struggled to stay alive using his talents for picking pockets. A natural nickname for someone with his name and talents is Octopus. Now that he is respectable and has left that past behind, Gooseberry, so named for his bulging eyes, tries to set a good example for his younger brother Julius. This becomes more difficult when they help hide another street surviver named Bertha in their own home. I do not want to give away the story. It works wonderfully as author Michael Gallagher unfolds it. Gooseberry has to use his former talents and contacts to solve a mystery with very few clues. Once he has an idea of what crime is being committed, he has to expand his talents to be in the right place at the right time. Unfortunately that place will also turn out to be the wrong place. If you are a fan of Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Wilkie Collins, or George Eliot, you will appreciate this adventure. I was gifted a copy of this book but the review is my honest opinion. I enjoyed this tale.