The Mangle Street Murders by M R C Kasasian

A review of the historical crime thriller novel The Mangle Street Murders by M R C Kasasian.

The Mangle Street Murders is set in Whitechapel in Victorian London, 1882. The story centres around personal investigator Sidney Grice and his ward March Middleton. The pair are approached by Mrs Dillinger whose daughter has been brutally murdered. The police suspect her son-in-law, but she is convinced he is innocent and pleads with Grice to investigate the case. Grice refuses but is coerced by Miss Middleton to at least ‘have a look.’ Reluctantly, Grice agrees and Miss Middleton insists she helps. The book then follows the investigation.

The Mangle Street Murders is written using the language of Victorian England, taking into account the prejudices and social norms of the day. London provides a very dark and disturbing backdrop for the book. M R C Kasasian does not gloss over the cruelty and starvation of the time, nor does he shy away from the controversial views towards women. Obviously, police procedure is different too, and the author does make you wonder how any crime was ever solved.

Very early on you find out that March has a secret which the writer continues to drip feed information about through flashbacks. Personally, I didn’t like having to wait to find out the mystery surrounding Miss Middleton. I did hope that Sidney Grice too had a secret to explain his obnoxious behaviour. However, towards the end of the book you do see a different side to him. Whether that’s good or not remains to be seen.

Sidney Grice is one of the most unlikeable characters I have ever read. He has no redeeming features, is obnoxious to everyone and makes the book difficult to read.

The story itself is a good one; the atmosphere is well done, and the language used is appropriate to the time. There is no bad language or overt use of sex, which is quite refreshing. Neither is it a bright, jolly book. Two things spoil the novel for me: the first being the character Sidney Grice, the second being the allusions the author makes to Sherlock Holmes, even at one point inferring that Holmes is based on Sidney Grice after a meeting with Conan Doyle. This writer does not need to sell himself short in this way.

All-in-all I would recommend this book and I will probably read the series. I’m hoping to find Mr Grice to not be so pompous, arrogant or obnoxious as the series moves along and we get to know his character better.

Cassidy grew up in Thanet and lives here with her family.

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