Set in the London of 1882, March Middleton, whose father has died, arrives to live with Sidney Grice who is to be her guardian. Sidney Grice is the most famous and celebrated private investigator of the era but his success is equally matched by his gruff and unapproachable exterior.
March however is not cowed by this bully of a man. She formerly assisted her father who was an army surgeon at the front and has already had a tough education in matters of life and death. When a distraught woman consults Grice on the matter of her son-in-law, who has been arrested for murder, March jumps in to pay the poor woman’s fee for the investigation but insists she must help with the case. So begins the hunt for a killer.
I did enjoy the mystery in the book which was quite convoluted toward the end, but for me, there were some reservations. Sidney Grice is clever, an astute investigator, but also an abominable man, rude and unfeeling. There were some funny moments, he is a dab-hand at a witty riposte and a few of them made me laugh but all-in-all I found the detective to be too unlikeable and his presence actually overshadowed the story. March is an enjoyable character but, I have to say, I was weary of Grice’s nastiness and peculiarities, even his love of tea, by the end of the book.
Set in London, Salisbury Square is a story that nevertheless unfolds a million miles away from the city many visitors know; The London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral, cruising on the Thames… this is a different London.
Jerzy Komaza is also a visitor but he is Polish, he speaks no English and he’s on the run. After all the years of abuse, Jerzy finally had enough of the way his sister suffered at the hands of their father, back on their Polish Farm, and he killed him.
Now Jerzy has fled with a promise of work if only he can meet up with his cousin Jan in Salisbury Square. Immediately things begin to go wrong, Jan is nowhere to be seen and, when he sees she is in trouble, Jerzy goes to the aid of a young drug addict, Suzie. He is drawn into a new life of workgangs and drugs and acts of violence.
The story is told from several viewpoints and the cast of important characters is quite large. They take a little getting to know but soon the links between them begin to become obvious, their lives entwined in ways even they are not aware of. Told in short chapters the pace quickens towards an end that is surprising, original and somewhat inevitable.
Salisbury Square is a story of lives gone wrong and the far reaching effects on family and friends. It’s about people who care and people who don’t.
A gritty, interesting and, at times, poignant read that left me with lots to think about and to be thankful for.
* Many thanks go to the author who provided a copy of this book with no obligation to review*