Author: Christine Trent
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication date: May 7, 2019
“For fans of Charles Todd and Deanna Raybourn comes Christine Trent’s second Florence Nightingale mystery.
Cholera has broken out in London, but Florence Nightingale has bigger problems when people begin dying of a far more intentional cause—murder.
The London summer of 1854 is drawing to a close when a deadly outbreak of cholera grips the city. Florence Nightingale is back on the scene marshaling her nurses to help treat countless suffering patients at Middlesex Hospital as the disease tears through the Soho slums. But beyond the dangers of the disease, something even more evil is seeping through the ailing streets of London.
It begins with an attack on the carriage of Florence’s friend, Elizabeth Herbert, wife to Secretary at War Sidney Herbert. Florence survives, but her coachman does not. Within hours, Sidney’s valet stumbles into the hospital, mutters a few cryptic words about the attack, and promptly dies from cholera. Frantic that an assassin is stalking his wife, Sidney enlists Florence’s help, who accepts but has little to go on save for the valet’s last words and a curious set of dice in his jacket pocket. Soon, the suspects are piling up faster than cholera victims, as there seems to be no end to the number of people who bear a grudge against the Herbert household.
Now, Florence is in a race against time—not only to save the victims of a lethal disease, but to foil a murderer with a disturbingly sinister goal—in A Murderous Malady.”
To be honest, I felt this was nothing like Raybourn or Todd, not in the writing or the narrative. The writing lacked the emotional depth and polish of the above-named authors, and I frankly don’t care much for that type of marketing, anyway, as it sets the author and the reader up.
I don’t mean to sound dire. I enjoyed Murderous Malady and the concept of using Florence Nightingale as an amateur sleuth in a 19th century medical setting is brilliant. The research is well done, but sometimes the seams show and too much time at the hospital complicated the plot, but ultimately caused the pace to drag. The mystery is well conceived and executed and kept me reading. Though I couldn’t guess who the murderer was, it was a pleasant surprise (as those things go, lol) at the reveal.
The cholera epidemic is an important character in the story, leading Florence into the deepest and dankest parts of Soho and returning because finding the killer appears to point in this direction. Florence Nightingale seemed to know intuitively that fresh air, good food and clean sheets aided the sick better than the abysmal treatment by the trained medical men, and she was pushy enough to get them to change some of their methods. That fortitude serves her well in solving the murder.
I will likely go back and read the first book, and I’m very excited about where the series is going to next.
Thank you Net Galley and Crooked Lane Books 😀