Fog clung to the Tower, a cloaking mist that shrouded the fortress in a grey-white gloom, its battlements and turrets ghostly silhouettes against the sky. Beyond the bulwarks and the ramparts, the Thames lapped at the wharf that lay beneath the ancient keep. The distant creaking of ships at St Katharine Docks and the clatter of their cargo were the only sounds that could be heard as dusk gave way to darkness. Even the guttural croaks of the ravens guarding the Tower had by now fallen silent.
Published by Black Crow in 2014
269 pages in paperback edition
Summary from Nosy Crow
It’s 1902. London is looking forward to the new King’s coronation and ignoring the threat of war from across the sea…
Penelope Tredwell, the pen behind bestselling author, Montgomery Flinch, is cursed with writer’s block. She needs a sensational new story or her magazine, The Penny Dreadful, will go under. So when a mysterious letter arrives, confessing to an impossible crime, Penny thinks she has found a plot to enthrall her readers: the theft of the Crown Jewels by the diabolical Black Crow.
Ghostly apparitions, kidnap and treason – this is the stuff of great stories. But what if it’s all true?
The cover artwork by Eric Orchard reflects the tone of this 1902 set adventure story. There’s a spooky atmosphere with dark hues and period detail, but also plenty to engage the contemporary reader.
We are given a likeable, inventive and patient heroine in the writer Penelope Tredwell who keeps her cool through a sequence of exciting predicaments. There’s an appealing array of early 20th century historical events given a rather different spin and overall, it’s an enjoyable thriller.
You could imagine it filmed as a serial for Saturday morning cinema once-upon-a-time – full of cliff-hangers and thrilling escapes and mysteries. The relationship between Penelope, Alfie her assistant and the actor playing Montgomery Flinch gives plenty of warmth and humour to the adventures.
This book would suit a wide range of confident readers – the lightness with which it is written means that the perils shown are unlikely to upset even the most sensitive of souls – yet there is a pleasurable frisson from the more ghostly aspects.
You don’t need to have read the two previous stories - but I expect those who have will find the ending of this one particularly satisfying.
Ideal for when you want a good, fast, escapist read in a less-than-obvious time period.