Devoured by D. E. Meredith
Genre: murder mystery, Victorian, forensics
Rating: 1.75 out of 5 stars
Summary: London, 1856. Professor Adolphus Hatton is a forensic scientist working a baffling case. A society lady has been brutally murdered in her bedroom, followed by a string of other deaths. At the center of the mystery lies a packet of missing letters, written by Benjamin Broderig while he was abroad in Borneo. As he is a scholar and free-thinker, the letters may contain information that will rock the foundations of current scientific thought. Or there may be something more sinister hidden in the letters. Who took the letters, and for what purpose? Hatton must work quickly, using the new science of forensics to solve the case before even more bodies pile up.
This book should’ve been interesting. The title is so evocative – Devoured. It sounds sinful and slightly wicked. It take place in Victorian London- an era of new science and public prudity. And tophats. Murders, political intrigue, underdog scientists, this book had a lot of promise. Sadly, it did not deliver.
The first thing I noticed was how the narrative jumps around incessantly. I assumed we would get Hatton’s point of view for most of the novel, with some secondary characters woven in to build suspense (like other mysteries). Half the book seems to be written in the POV of random characters. We go from Hatton, to Ashby, a clerk for the shitty Duke Monreith. Then there is Madame Martineau, prostitute/dressmaker to high society ladies/publisher of seditious pamphlets/dastardly foreign lady who also blackmails people. Sometimes the maid Flora will get a few pages. And then there are the letters themselves. They tell the story of Broderig’s time spent abroad as he searches for exotic specimens to study. But bad things happen while he’s in the wild, and those bad things are deeply connected to what is going on in London. Here’s the problem with that – I DON’T CARE WHAT IS HAPPENING IN LONDON.