The eighth book in the Victorian Mystery series, published February 2002.
"A sentence to Dartmoor Prison is a sentence to a living hell… “. Lord Charles Sheridan and his American wife Kate have heard some truly awful things about Britain’s most notorious prison. But Dartmoor and its mist-shrouded environs hold special appeal for both Sheridans. Kate hopes to find inspiration for her new gothic novel, while Charles plans to implement a fingerprinting program at the prison – and arrange a meeting with one of its most infamous inmates, Samuel Spencer. He’s convinced that Spencer – a Scotsman who admitted to killing his wife – is, in fact, innocent. What’s more, he believes he has the evidence to prove it. But Spencer continues to maintain his own guilt – and, as if to confirm it, he soon stages a daring prison escape. Lord Charles and his acquaintance Arthur Conan Doyle are most perplexed by this odd turn of events. And when a body turns up on the moor, it’s up to the two men – and the clever Kate – to discover if the missing convict is connected to this murderous new case…
It’s the eight book in this series already, and I have only four books left to read. I have enjoyed every instalment so far. And the fact that there will be no more books when I have finished those, is a bit sad. In this book, Kate and Charles meet some old friends. Patsy Marsden is back in the country, she has become quite the world traveller and photographer, and her first book will be published shortly. Arthur Conan Doyle is another. He is in Dartmoor to write a new Sherlock Holmes book, The Hound of the Baskervilles. And with a new friend he is touring the moors, and soaking up the atmosphere and the legends of the region. Until present day mysteries intrude upon fiction, and he and Charles set out to find a real murderer. Mister Doyle is very tired of being confused with his most famous hero, Sherlock Holmes, but sometimes it comes in handy while investigating. Sir Charles Sheridan has visited Dartmoor Prison, where all the inmates will be fingerprinted for a new dactyloscopic project. If this is successful, all the other prisons in England will follow. There is even a new department at Scotland Yard dedicated to preserving and studying fingerprints. But before this evidence is submitted and used in court, will be a long time.
Sir Charles is convinced that a Scottish doctor is innocent of butchering his wife. The bloody handprint found on the wall next to the victim, is clearly not of the convicted man. So, who is he protecting? To his surprise, Dr. Spencer refuses to cooperate with him, and when he finds out he is to be fingerprinted, he escapes the workgroup when the mist falls upon the moor. But did he manage to escape on his own, or did he have help?
If you like the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, you will enjoy this book even more. There is a lot of background on mister Doyle’s private life at the time, and how this book came to life. As always, I love visiting with Kate and Charles again. Robin Paige sure knows how to write great mysteries, against original historical backgrounds, I really do feel part of their lives and adventures. I am really looking forward to reading the next book. The mystery part was not really that difficult to solve, but there were multiple candidates for the murderer. I liked the intertwining of the two main storylines, did Dr. Spencer kill his wife, and why did he plead guilty if he did not, and did he kill the man on the moors? And if not, who did, and why? Kate and Charles with the help of Patsy and Mr. Doyle are busy following all the leads, until the truth falls into their laps.