Sunday, February 5, 2023

The Humbug Murders by L.J. Oliver

Intriguing concept here: Taking place in 1833, Ebenezer Scrooge, at 30 years of age, acts as an amateur detective to solve the murder of his own boss, Mr. Fezziwig. I had high hopes for this novel, given the setup and they were mostly fulfilled. I especially enjoyed the character of Miss Adelaide Owen who comes to work as a clerk for Mr. Scrooge and demonstrates a keen mind along with a refusal to put up with the antics of men who feel themselves superior to women.

The authors work hard to insert Dickens references and characters throughout the story, not the least of which is Dickens himself in his role as a reporter. Also included are cameos by Mr. Pickwick, Miss Havisham, and the Artful Dodger among several others. In addition, there are plenty of new characters thrown in which have a major impact on the plot and who also seem like genuine (i.e. odd) Dickens characters. In the end the novel works well. I did not quite solve the case on my own but when the big reveal occurred, I felt I should have seen it coming. That's pretty much an ideal result for a mystery novel as far as I'm concerned.

Reportedly, this was to have been the first in a series. That seems unlikely now since one of the two authors behind the "L.J. Oliver" pseudonym, Scott Ciencin, passed away around the time of publication. (The other is E.A.A. (Elizabeth) Wilson). There do not seem to have been any more published since this one in 2015 either. That's too bad. I would have happily read the next and the next...

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