The mist-shrouded moors of Devon proffer a trove of delights for two vacationing zoologists—but also conceal a hoard of dark secrets reaching down to the fathomless depths of the ocean.
Miss Merula Merriweather barely saved her uncle from the gallows after he was wrongly accused of murder—and now, she’s left the bustle of Victorian London to recuperate in the fresh air of Dartmoor with her fellow zoologist, Lord Raven Royston. The trip offers a unique treat, as they’ll be staying with a friend of Raven’s, who owns a collection of rare zoological specimens—including a Kraken, a sea monster of myth and legend.
But all is not right in the land of tors, heaths, and mist. Their host’s maid has vanished without a trace, and the townspeople hold him responsible, claiming that his specimens are alive and roam the moors at night, bringing death to anyone who crosses their path. Merula and Raven are sceptical—but the accusations become more ominous when they find several specimen jars empty.
As the two, hunt for clues across a desolate and beautiful landscape, a stranger appears bearing a shadowy secret from Merula’s past. Could there be a connection between her family history, the missing girl, and a fearsome monster that could be on the loose? The race is on to find the truth.
I received a copy of this book from Crooked Lane Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is my first’ Merriweather and Royston mystery’. This is a standalone mystery, and there is sufficient backstory to place the characters, and their relationship in this story, but if you can, read book one first.
The Dartmoor setting of this novel plays on the Victorian belief that strange, dangerous creatures roam the moor in the darkness. This is not the Dartmoor I know, but it is well documented in Victorian literature like ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’.
This story contains all the essential elements of a Victorian murder mystery. Enigmatic, intelligent, but flawed detectives, with a degree of emotional damage. A community steeped in folklore and tradition, and a dislike of outsiders or anyone who is different from them. An undercurrent of criminal activity, and gruesome murder, possibly due to supernatural causes.
The mystery that unfolds in this story has all of the above. There is much we do not know about our detectives, but they are complex individuals. Victorian pioneers, a little before their time, especially Merriweather. The mystery is well constructed and embellished with Victorian beliefs and themes, that make solving it difficult.
The writing style and time period, will not suit everyone, but it is faithfully represented, and worth reading, to see if it is for you.