Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

Whom the Gods Love

Monday, May 29, 2006

Whom the Gods Love (1995) Kate Ross

Alexander Falkland has been killed. His head smashed in with a poker while one of his famous parties rages upstairs. But Alex is the darling of the ton (it took me awhile to figure this one out; the ton is the bon ton, or high society in London) and no one has the faintest idea who would have wanted to kill him. So Malcolm Falkland, Alexander’s father, hires Julian Kestrel to assist Bow Street in this investigation, believing that the darlings of society will talk to Alexander when they wouldn’t talk to Bow Street.

I really like Julian Kestrel. He’s smart, he’s witty, and he actually cares about people, as much as he tries to hide it. I also like how he works with Bow Street. Because he has worked so hard to become a part of society, he cannot become a Bow Street runner, yet his inside connection to society is precisely what Bow Street needs to help solve the crime. Interestingly, similar arguments are made here, as in the books by T.F. Banks, that Bow Street would eventually have to be replaced by a regular police force. And as in those books, you can see how Bow Street lacked the authority to properly fight crime in Regency England. In this case, because they lacked the respect of higher society, they were unable to make much headway into the murder.

Perhaps because we saw so much of him in the last book, Dipper is only a minor character in this book. After all, the victim was a member of society, so other than listening for rumors, there wasn’t a lot he could do. However, to make up for that, we learn that Julian has continued a friendship through letters with Philippa Fontclaire (Cut to the Quick).

As with the previous two books, I very much liked everything about the writing of Whom the Gods Love. I loved the dialog, the story moved quickly, and the mystery was very good. I’d guessed parts of the mystery, however, other parts were a complete surprise, which is how a good mystery should be. And it was only slightly frustrating when Julian would muse on some conclusion he’d drawn, and not share.

I also loved her description of Regency London. How women could be trapped into bad situations, how men could get themselves into trouble financially trying to remain fashionable, how mistresses and prostitutes were an acceptable part of society. I find it all fascinating, and I love the language and tone. And then there’s the fact that they party all night and sleep all day. Dinner at a party was to be served at one in the morning, and no one thought this strange. And people complain nowdays about bars being open until two in the morning? Modern college students have nothing on the high society set of Regency London.

Like the previous book, A Broken Vessel there is some sex in the story, however it occurs in the background, and is not described explicitly, so I should be okay to loan this book to my grandmother. However, like A Broken Vessel, the secrets that come out are ugly and unpleasant.

If you like Victorian mysteries, then I strongly recommend Kate Ross. Although you could probably pick this book up and be fine, I think it would be preferable to start the series from the beginning, and watch Julian grow beyond the simple dandy he appears at the start of the first book.

There are only four books, so I recommend reading them in order. And I mourn the early death of Kate Ross, and the fact that I have only one Julian Kestrel mystery left to read. How awful that such a wonderful voice was silenced so early.
Rating: 8/10


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