Sunday 27 December 2020

Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson @LauraSRobinson @MantleBooks @panmacmillan #DaughtersOfNight @rosiewillsreads


London, 1782. Desperate for her politician husband to return home from France, Caroline ‘Caro’ Corsham is already in a state of anxiety when she finds a well-dressed woman mortally wounded in the bowers of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The Bow Street constables are swift to act, until they discover that the deceased woman was a highly paid prostitute, at which point they cease to care entirely. But Caro has motives of her own for wanting to see justice done, and so sets out to solve the crime herself. Enlisting the help of thief taker Peregrine Child, their inquiry delves into the hidden corners of Georgian society, a world of artifice, deception and secret lives.

But with many gentlemen refusing to speak about their dealings with the dead woman, and Caro’s own reputation under threat, finding the killer will be harder, and more treacherous, than she can know . . .

Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson is published by Mantle / Pan Macmillan on 18 February 2021, and is the author's second book. I read and reviewed her first; Blood and Sugar here on Random Things back in April.  My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I have been absolutely transfixed by this wonderful story for the past three days. It was the perfect Christmas read for me. 

Caro Corsham appeared briefly in Shepherd-Robinson's first novel and I'm delighted that she decided to give Caro her own story. She's an absolutely fabulous creation; determined and appearing quite fearless, a woman way before her time who takes risks in the name of justice.

When Caro discovers the body of her friend Lucia in a bower in the Vauxhall Gardens, she is devastated. Whilst she didn't know Lucia well, she liked her very much. However, it soon becomes clear that Lucia was not, in fact, a wealthy gentlewoman. She was actually Lucy Loveless; a five-guinea prostitute. Well known in the area, and it seems, the holder of many secrets. The police are not interested in the death of a working girl, but Caro is. She engages the services of Peregrine Child; a local thief-taker and former magistrate and unwittingly places herself, and Child into extreme danger. 

Caro has her own secrets. Secrets that could mean that she is banished from society, her child taken from her, and her money cut off. She's battling to save her own face whilst also determined to seek justice for Lucy. 

This really is historical fiction at its very best. The author paints such a vivid and evocative setting for some really dastardly and quite horrific crimes. The attention to detail is just incredible and it is far more than just a reading experience, this is like a history lesson from a teacher who loves her subject. We don't just learn about the squalor and poverty; the addiction and deviance. We learn about the total lack of any rights of people who are not men, and who are not rich. We constantly worry about society today; about the violence, the lack of morals and the corruption by those in power. In Daughters of Night, Shepherd- Robinson clearly and intricately details the absolute horror that life was for the residents of London in the late 1700s, there are situations in this story that are still as relevant today; well over two hundred years later. 

Not only is this a story rich in historical detail, with immaculately created characters, it is also a complex and incredibly well woven crime mystery. There are a lot of characters here, there is a lot to take in, but it's written so well and with such vibrancy that the story just flows through the pages. Revealing dangerous men who do evil things, the utter contempt for anyone who may cross them, especially if they are female. The total feeling of how the rich and powerful have no regard for anyone but themselves. The desperation of trying to cover their tracks, the destruction of anyone who may get in their way ... all of it is here, in mighty and colourful prose that will thrill the reader. 

Daughters of Night is an epic, harrowing and astonishing historical crime thriller. I loved the author's first novel, but I adored this one and despite it having almost 600 pages, I really didn't want it to end.

This impressive story will have you on the edge of your seat. What an incredibly talented author she is. I really want more now. 

Laura Shepherd-Robinson was born in Bristol in 1976. She has a BSc in Politics from the University
of Bristol and an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics. Laura worked in politics for nearly twenty years before re-entering normal life to complete an MA in Creative Writing at City University. She lives in London with her husband, Adrian.

Twitter @LauraSRobinson

Instagram @laurashepherdrobinson

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