The Thief Taker
Henry Morton is a Bow Street Runner in 1815 London. It is the season Bonaparte and Wellington are marching to a face down on the European Continent. Morton, though, is busy with a different case. Halbert Glendenning dies in a coach between a flash house and his fiancee's home. Supposedly he drank too much and choked on his own vomit. Morton arrived shortly after the coach arrived, yet after the doctor had arrived. He had to disagree. There was no sign of vomit in the man's mouth or throat.
Glendenning's family is too ashamed to have the matter investigated. They agree with the diagnosis. They don't want to admit that their son had been in a prostitution house that supplied little girls. Morton believed that Glendenning had been lured there and poisoned. Unfortunately, he doesn't have proof. There are no tests for poision admissable in England courts. Instead, the magistrate warns him off the case.
Since Bow Street Runners are paid by the case or arrest, they are allowed to take on other work. Glendinning's fiancee hires him to investigate the murder further. He splits his time between trying to discover what happened the night the young man died and the source of corruptions with some other Runners.
This mystery novel is fascinating in its historical setting. Morton is memorable character. I had known of Bow Street Runners, but never knew much about them. As well as learning more about the early English police force, I learned more about the history of the Napoleanic/English wars and of Regency England as well. The mystery is well presented. I had to sympathize with Morton's frustrations of the system as it existed them. Detectives never have all the knowledge and testing they want. Yet early 19th England had the same evils we have today, with less ways to discover a culprit. I recommend this novel both for the mystery and the history.
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