Author: Selina Kray
Rating: 3.5 stars
Provided by Author
Blurb: At Scotland Yard, DI Timothy Stoker is no better than a ghost. A master of arcane documents and niggling details who, unlike his celebrity-chasing colleagues, prefers hard work to headlines. But an invisible man is needed to unmask the city’s newest amateur detective, Hieronymus Bash. A bon vivant long on flash and style but short on personal history, Bash just may be a Cheapside rogue in Savile Row finery.
When the four fangs of the Demon Cats of Scavo—trophies that protect the hunters who killed the two vicious beasts—disappear one by one, Stoker’s forced to team with the very man he was sent to investigate to maintain his cover. He finds himself thrust into a world of wailing mediums, spiritualist societies, man-eating lions, and a consulting detective with more ambition than sense. Will this case be the end of his career, or the start of an unexpected liaison? Or will the mysterious forces at play be the death of them both?
And just who is Hieronymus Bash?
Review: Colorful and dashing Hieronymus Bash is a man of many skins. He plays at being medium, actor, and sleuth, all with an air of mystery and flamboyance. Hiero has become somewhat of a celebrity in Victorian London. Somehow he’s been solving cases before the officials are able to – something which can’t be allowed to go on. I expected him to be arrogant and perhaps a true rogue, but was pleasantly surprised by how off I was on this assumption.
DI Tim Stoker – “Kip” when working undercover – is desperate to prove his worth to his wretched superiors. His very future at Scotland Yard may depend on his latest dual assignment: to break the case of a mysterious theft, and in doing so, expose the brash, meddling private detective Hiero Bash as a fraud. Kip gave off a “still waters run deep” vibe that I enjoyed getting to the bottom of. I was definitely on his side. When the Fangs of Scavo start being stolen in a freakish, brazen manner, the two men find themselves working in unison to get to the bottom of the thefts. This throws them both off stride, to say the least. No ordinary collectors items these, the Fangs are known to protect the founding members of the Society of Spiritualists from ills. Needless to say, their return is crucial, and who knows what havoc could rain down with them being in the wrong hands?
Hiero’s dashing demeanor, covey of compatriots, core kindness and bold self-assurance brand him quite the opposite of Kip, who is quietly but determinedly set on doing the best job possible while securing his place on the force. He goes the extra mile and works hard on cases that fellow offices slough off on. Both men are quite compelling in their own way, with Kip’s draw to Hiero causing him to come out of his shell, to be more demonstrative, to act with passion. Watching these two interact and develop a relationship was a real treat; in fact, their interactions are what carried me through the story.
Despite the compelling characterizations and interesting plot, I had difficulty getting into the early parts of this story. The opening struck me as drawn out, with a multitude of character introductions and references: enough to be a bit overwhelming. Rather than serving as a hook, I had to allow my curiosity about Heiro and Kip to keep me going, and I’m very glad I did. Their chemistry really took off and kept my interest when they were on page, while many of the details about the mystery, the exact movements of the bad guys, saw my attention waning.
I thought I recognized a true story associated with the stolen enchanted lion tooth relics – the Fangs of Scavo – from true history and it turns out the author did use it as a base. I love this kind of folding in of actual events with fiction. Hiero’s bodyguard of sorts, Han, and his ward, Callie, shine as important and interesting secondary characters.
I adore historical stories, and all in all, this was a fun book. The author peppers it with loads of colorful flavor and authenticity. Hiero and Kip are intriguing and make for one captivating couple. Indeed part of the mystery involves watching their layers get peeled back to find out what truly makes them tick. I’ll be picking up the next in the series to see what kind of trouble they can get themselves into – out of? 😀