Friday, 7 October 2011

Book Review: THE DETECTIVE BRANCH BY ANDREW PEPPER

Genre:  Historical Mystery
Published:  Orion Books  (Feb 2010) 
Pages:  372  (Paperback)
Source:  BookDagger RealReaders
My Rating:  8.5/10


About the Book:

Drury Lane, 1844. A robbery has been committed at a pawnbroker's, leaving three people dead. The man called in to investigate is Pyke, head of the Metropolitan Police's newly formed Detective Branch at Scotland Yard.
Pyke must find the culprit and quickly, especially as the identity of one of the victims threatens to expose his own criminal past. 
A valuable religious artefact appears to have motivated the robbery but when the main suspect commits suicide in police custody, the investigation falters. Then the rector of a wealthy parish is brutally murdered and Pyke spots a connection. His suspicions lead him to a dissolute former Catholic priest, rumours of devil worship, and an old case that no one wants him to investigate.
With time running out and the murderer threatening to kill again, Pyke must face up to forces within the police and the church who would prefer the secrets of the past to remain buried forever.

Pyke joins the newly formed Detective Bureau of the Metropolitan police in a tale of corruption and murder.

This is the 4th book in the Victorian mystery series featuring Detective Pyke.  I haven't read any of the first three so I can't compare this with the earlier ones.

Pyke had a chequered past, he had been convicted of murder and sentenced to hang, only to escape and earn a full pardon, he had also served some time in the debtors prison.

He was certainly no goody goody but he was a good policeman and "as he looked down at the bodies.....it was his job to remain detached, to see things as they were, but it was hard work to look at the crime scene and not feel a twinge of excitement.  An abomination had been perpetrated and it was his job to find the man or men responsible.
At bottom, it was why he'd agreed to join the police force; because he loved the thrill of the chase."

He had a strained relationship with his 14 year old son, a strained relationship with his superiors and an equally strained relationship with his peers in the Detective Branch.  All in all, he's not very good with people.

What started off as a routine robbery/murder soon turned into a complicated story of a stolen church artefact, a man accused of murdering a child, past murders that may or may not be related to this murder investigation and other surprising turn of events.

This was a better than average mystery which seemed slow at the beginning, there were a lot of characters to remember but once the story had developed I became thoroughly engrossed and had no idea which way it was going to go.

Special Thanks to BookDagger RealReaders for sending it to me.

About the Author:


Andrew Pepper is a lecturer in American Writing and Contemporary Crime Fiction at Queen's University, Belfast. His first novel, THE LAST DAYS OF NEWGATE, was shortlisted for the CWA NEW BLOOD AWARD. He lives in Belfast with his partner and children.










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