It's mystery week here at Royal Reviews and to get things started is Cat.
Title: The Thief Taker
Author: Janet Gleeson
Genre: Historical Mystery
Publisher: Random House, 2004
Rating: 3 crowns
Murder and mystery in eighteenth-century London.
Agnes Meadowes is cook to the renowned silversmiths, Blanchards of Foster Lane. The death of her husband freed her from an abusive marriage and she values her new independence and the security of her position although she is unable to have her young son with her. But her quiet routine is about to change!
One night the Blanchards most expensive piece, a giant silver wine cooler, is stolen and the young apprentice on watch is found murdered. At the same time , a young maid, Rose, disappears. Is there a connection between the two happenings? Theodore Blanchard employs the services of a thief taker to recover the stolen silver and calls upon Agnes to act as an intermediary between them and also to use her position in the household to talk to the other servants in the hope of finding out what befell Rose.
Very soon Agnes finds herself caught in the underworld of shady dealings, hidden secrets and murderous intent and before she uncovers the truth her own life will be at considerable risk.
One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was the glimpse into eighteenth-century life 'downstairs', the different duties of the household staff and what each one involved. It was a world with a rigid social hierachy of its own and woe betide anyone who dared step out of their place.
Then there is the food! Accompanying Agnes to the market and watching her prepare the meals is fascinating but doesn't exactly leave one with an appetite............." fried tripe and boiled cauliflower, ragout of pig's ears, macaroni pie, roast mutton and cabbage"........that is one dinner menu!
Although it starts a little slowly the storyline is well written and the mystery develops skillfully with enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing until it builds to an excellent, fast paced climax. While it may not be the most memorable reading it provides a solid and satisfying cozy mystery and I enjoyed it as such.
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