Jackson, L M - 'A Most Dangerous Woman'
L M Jackson, under the name Lee Jackson has written four previous novels set in the Victorian era, three of which featured Inspector Decimus Webb. In A MOST DANGEROUS WOMAN he introduces Sarah Tanner in what I hope is the first of a new series.
It's 1852 and Mrs Tanner - though Sarah's never been married, nor is Tanner her real name - opens a coffee shop in a seedier part of London. Sarah has a 'past' but she's keeping quiet about it all, until a former friend and colleague accidentally stumbles into her shop, afraid for his life. Quite accurately so, for no sooner has he left the cafe then his pursuer stabs him to death with Sarah finding him dying. She resolves to get the man who murdered her friend.
However she possibly miscalculates by contacting her former employers, especially as she owes them money. She only escapes with her life through the intervention of her elderly waiter, Ralph. Sarah, assisted by her employee and later the girlfriend of the dead man, sets about finding the murderer and keeping out of harm's way.
A MOST DANGEROUS WOMAN is an enchanting read with a superb recreation of Victorian London and a strong-willed heroine, who like a cat has plenty of lives, being both resourceful and quick-witted and I particularly liked Sarah's sidekick Ralph who takes part is many a subterfuge. There are two main strands to the plot - find a murderer and prevent a wedding - and these become more connected as the story progresses, with a number of twists to keep you on your toes leading to an ending I hadn't predicted. This was a fascinating page-turner and I eagerly await the next outing by Mrs Tanner.
Read another review of A MOST DANGEROUS WOMAN.
Karen Meek, England