Down a Dark River
by Karen Odden
Publication Date: November 9, 2021
Crooked Lane Books
Hardcover & eBook; 336 pages
Series: An Inspector Corravan Mystery, Book One
Genre: Historical Mystery
In the vein of C. S. Harris and Anne Perry, Karen Odden’s mystery introduces Inspector Michael Corravan as he investigates a string of vicious murders that has rocked Victorian London’s upper crust.
London, 1878. One April morning, a small boat bearing a young woman’s corpse floats down the murky waters of the Thames. When the victim is identified as Rose Albert, daughter of a prominent judge, the Scotland Yard director gives the case to Michael Corravan, one of the only Senior Inspectors remaining after a corruption scandal the previous autumn left the division in ruins. Reluctantly, Corravan abandons his ongoing case, a search for the missing wife of a shipping magnate, handing it over to his young colleague, Mr. Stiles.
An Irish former bare-knuckles boxer and dockworker from London’s seedy East End, Corravan has good street sense and an inspector’s knack for digging up clues. But he’s confounded when, a week later, a second woman is found dead in a rowboat, and then a third. The dead women seem to have no connection whatsoever. Meanwhile, Mr. Stiles makes an alarming discovery: the shipping magnate’s missing wife, Mrs. Beckford, may not have fled her house because she was insane, as her husband claims, and Mr. Beckford may not be the successful man of business that he appears to be.
Slowly, it becomes clear that the river murders and the case of Mrs. Beckford may be linked through some terrible act of injustice in the past—for which someone has vowed a brutal vengeance. Now, with the newspapers once again trumpeting the Yard’s failures, Corravan must dredge up the truth—before London devolves into a state of panic and before the killer claims another innocent victim.
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Praise for Down a Dark River
“A harrowing tale of unbridled vice that exposes the dark underbelly of Victorian society.”
“A must read for mystery fans!”
—Charles Todd, New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Rutledge mysteries
“This twisty-turn-y mystery introducing a new and charismatic detective will delight readers also looking for well-researched history.”
—Susan Elia MacNeal, New York Times bestselling author of the Maggie Hope series
“Odden’s latest is intricately plotted and filled with a cast of wonderful characters, including a worthy and relatable hero.”
—Anna Lee Huber, USA Today bestselling author
“A spellbinding, brilliantly plotted Victorian murder mystery, Karen Odden’s Down a Dark River features a fascinating and relatable detective, a cast of complex characters, powerful prose, exceptional attention to historical detail, and enough twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat until the last astonishing page. Highly recommended!”
—Syrie James, bestselling author of The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte
“Sparkling prose, vivid description, a haunting and satisfyingly complex story . . . Down a Dark River is a must read for fans of any genre of crime fiction.”
—Edwin Hill, author of The Secrets We Share
“Gritty, compelling and vividly written . . . Like Anne Perry, Odden demonstrates a commanding grasp of authentic period detail.”
—Susanna Calkins, author of the Lucy Campion historical mysteries and Speakeasy Murders
“An original, street-smart detective, an intriguing mystery, and delicious Victorian flavor. All my favorite things!”
—Laura Joh Rowland, author of The Ripper’s Shadow, a Victorian Mystery
“No one does Victorian England like Karen Odden . . . Fans of Anne Perry and Charles Finch will welcome Inspector Michael Corravan.”
—Mariah Fredericks, author of the Jane Prescott mystery series
This was such a great read, and kept me up way past my intended bed-time, as I raced through the final chapters, desperate to discover the final conclusion (which of course I won’t give away here, don’t worry!). We meet Corravan as he discovers the first of a series of brutally-attacked young women, and begins his investigations into what has happened. He is hampered by a distrusting public, convinced of the Yard’s corruption, as well as former colleagues with a grudge, uncaring journalists just after their next scoop, and even senior officers, concerned for the Yard’s reputation. Through it all, Corravan keeps going, determined to establish the truth, with his few trusted friends and colleagues around him. These interactions with his doctor friend, Stiles his sergeant, and a young boy sent into his care, as well as the beautiful Belinda, gave an insight into our detective’s character, and were a good break at times from the interviews and investigations, which take Corravan down plenty of blind alleys before he begins to discover the truth.
The pacing throughout the investigation was excellent, and we learned key facts just at the right time. The conclusion, once revealed, made perfect sense of course, but more than that, the attitudes and reactions of friends, family and loved ones of each woman were true to their time, and class. All in all, excellent plotting, wonderful characters, and I’m glad this is Book One, because I’d certainly enjoy reading another of Corravan’s investigations. Definitely recommended.
About the Author
Karen Odden earned her Ph.D. in English from New York University and subsequently taught literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has contributed essays to numerous books and journals, written introductions for Victorian novels in the Barnes & Noble classics series, and edited for the journal Victorian Literature and Culture (Cambridge UP). Her previous novels, also set in 1870s London, have won awards for historical fiction and mystery. A member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime and the recipient of a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Karen lives in Arizona with her family and her rescue beagle Rosy.
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