I’m reviewing another Victorian murder mystery today. It’s written in an entirely different style but is another 5 star book.
The Pre-Raphaelite Seamstress by Amita Murray
The prologue of this Victorian mystery describes the bloody scene within a gentleman’s carriage on the streets of London through the eyes of his murderer but we must wait until the denouement of the story for all to be revealed.
We meet instead, seamstress Rachel Faraday, not surprisingly often mistaken for a whore, on her way to the house of a new client, Mrs March and her handsome, but annoying brother Harry Twyfold. It would seem to be the introduction to a conventional romance but it is not so simple. Rachel is compelled to investigating the murder which has occurred, to prevent injustice and free an innocent man.
Rachel is not only a seamstress, but also an artist who paints her own fabrics. She meets Dante Gabriel Rosetti who gives her lessons while she tries to resist his charms. Her life becomes complicated and at times unbearable and she puts herself in great danger by risking a tête-à-tête with the lecherous George Norland and then by following a suspect through the squalor of the Southwark lanes.
This unpredictable story sweeps us through Pre-Raphaelite exhibitions, Rosetti’s studio, Rachel’s lower middle class home shared with friends and the abject poverty among the wharves lining the Thames. Rachel has a complicated personality; an independent, artistic lady of 27 who at times is driven to despair. But when all seems impossible and she has risked all, there is a solution with the aid of loyal friends and a suggestion of future happiness and a further book.
This unusual book rewards any reader who enjoys a Victorian setting and its constant twists of plot increase the mystery of the murderer’s identity.