A Mortal Likeness: A Victorian Mystery

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A Mortal Likeness is the second novel in Laura Joh Rowland’s Victorian Mysteries series. In the aftermath of the Ripper case, Miss Sarah Bain and Lord Hugh Staunton set up a detective agency. Cases are sparse and funds sparser. While tracking an adulterous husband, the pair stumble upon evidence that may be of help regarding a prominent kidnapping case. When they take the information to Sir Gerald, father of the missing Robin Mariner, he hires them to investigate the possibility of the kidnapping being an inside job. There are stipulations to employment though — they must sign a confidentiality agreement and must move into Mariner House for the duration of the case. These conditions cause problems from the start. Sarah ends up having to lie to her new fiancé Both have to lie to Mick, their young charge. He’s too smart though, and he tracks them down. Life at Mariner House is fraught with danger for the trio. The family and servants are hostile to questioning. Deadly accidents plague the investigators, and personal agendas begin to cloud their objectivity and drive a wedge between Sarah and Hugh, and between Sarah and her fiancé Can they solve Robin’s kidnapping and keep their relationships intact?
This was my first foray into Rowland’s Victorian Mysteries series, though I didn’t realize it at first. Enough mentions are made of the events in Ripper that I got the gist of what happened in the first book. I love stories set in Victorian times, and this read didn’t disappoint. The mystery itself was interesting, and it called to mind the true kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. Sarah is a photographer, a profession fostered by her father before his disappearance, and she brings that talent to the investigation business. It was neat to learn about earlier photography. Rowland has a certain gift for bringing places in the novel to life. It’s easy to immerse myself in her stories, and I feel as if I’m there. I adore her Sano Ichiro series set in feudal Japan.
I feel Sarah and Hugh both have a lot of growing up to do. There were times when Mick, the teen, seemed like the adult of the group. This was probably due to him being a street kid and needing to grow up very fast. Hugh, on the other hand, lived a life of privilege until being disowned. Sarah’s personality seems to lie in the middle of the other two; there were still times I wanted to thwack her for her behavior. The insistence that Hugh be objective regarding Tristan was ludicrous given her thoughts regarding Sir Gerald, and at times it felt like she was twisting evidence to fit certain people, especially Tristan, which I feel was due to her fear that he would lure Hugh from their partnership. I’m looking forward to reading the first, and the next, in the series. I recommended A Mortal Likeness to those who love mysteries and historical fiction.

Author Laura Joh Rowland
Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 304 pages
Publisher Crooked Lane Books
Publish Date 2018-Jan-09
ISBN 9781683314479
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue March 2019
Category Mystery, Crime & Thriller


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