Daughters of Night
Standalone or series
Series (sort of, the main character played a smaller role in the author’s previous book Blood & Sugar)
First time reading this author?
Why I picked this
I haven’t read many historical crime novels, so thought I would give this a try. While I’ve never read the author’s first book Blood & Sugar I’ve seen it reviewed positively and recommended elsewhere.
Review copy or purchase
Review copy via publisher Mantle and NetGalley UK in exchange for an honest review.
What it’s about
Caroline Corsham is in trouble. Her husband is abroad and she is pregnant with her lover’s child. She meets Lucia, an Italian countess her brother introduced her to some time ago, who figures out Caroline’s condition and offers to help. But, when Caroline goes to meet her in the garden at a society party, she finds Lucia murdered. The police quickly lose interest when it turns out that Lucia is not a countess, she’s actually a London prostitute called Lucy Loveless. Despite her shock, Caroline decides that she wants to find out the truth about Lucia’s murder and works with ex-magistrate turned thief-taker Peregrine Child to help discover the murderer.
I didn’t realise until half-way through that this book is a semi-sequel to the author’s first book Blood & Sugar. Caroline Corsham is the wife of the main character from the first book. He is referred to, but is absent abroad in this story. While the link will no doubt be obvious from the start if you’ve read the previous book, it made no odds to me and it totally works as a standalone read.
This is historical crime fiction. Set in the reign of King George III it deals well with the challenges of being a woman in this time. The prostitutes have a degree of independence without the same societal expectations as other women, and Caroline’s wealth and family standing get her in to a lot of places, but ultimately the men are the ones who hold the power. Yet, even these men are bound by their secrets and forced to do the bidding of the man who controls the purse strings and their lives.
Secret societies, domestic drama, scandal and danger are all key parts of the plot. Unfortunately the most interesting and intriguing character is Lucy Loveless and the reader only gets to know her through second hand accounts from other people. That’s a shame as I think she would have made for a more compelling main character and I’d have loved to have more insight into her actions and thinking.
Overall this is a good story, but I just felt at a distance from the action or threat of peril because I wasn’t invested in the outcomes for any of the characters. I suspect though that if you enjoyed Blood & Sugar you should be adding this to your TBR pile.