Wonders & Wickedness by Carol Hedges

Wonders & Wickedness

Wonders & Wickedness by Carol Hedges (Victorian Detectives Series #5)
English | 2020 | Mystery & Thriller | ePUB | 3.3 MB

1864 marks the arrival of a brand new department store right in the shopping heart of Oxford Street.
What owner John Gould does not expect, is the presence of a dead man in one of his display windows.
How did he get there?
And why has Gould’s store been picked out as a murder location?
Meanwhile Sir Hugh and Lady Meriel Wynward are not expecting to hear from their daughter Sybella, who died in a railway accident two years ago.
So when a letter written in her hand arrives unexpectedly, on what would have been her eighteenth birthday, it throws them into turmoil.
What is going on?
Bleak expectations dog the progress of Stride and Cully ,two officers of Scotland Yard’s detective division, as they embark upon their most complex case so far.
The twists and turns of the investigation will lead them into a murky mire of murder and blackmail, and the strange dark underground world of Victorian spiritualism.
In her latest Victorian Detective novel, Wonders & Wickedness, author Carol Hedges pays homage to all these and more. The story seems at first as though it came straight from the pages of Dickens himself.
In fact, the Victorian London of 1864 is itself one of the supporting characters, introduced by its iconic fog.

London 1864. It is mid-September and the beginning of evening, a time when day is balanced between twilight and dusk. The temperature has been dropping, and the fog that has been hanging about in alleys and cellars all day is moving back in for the night.

Fog finds its way up from the river and down from the sky, filtering like a melodramatic ghost through cracks and crevices. Tendrils of fog slip in around shutters, sliding into lighted rooms, where they make the candles crackle.

Pause awhile in Oxford Street, that great West End thoroughfare of commerce, lined with shops and edged on both sides with lamp posts that seem to run pell-mell down to the high arch of white marble that marks the beginning of Hyde Park, with its meadows and green rises of trees; its valleys filled with old tufted oaks with gnarled branches.

Not that any of this is visible now, on this particular fog-enwrapped evening. Indeed, to the man peering out through the heavy wooden shutters, it is like trying to see through pale grey velvet.

Afterwards, he thinks there might have been shapes out there, looming in the gloom, moving stealthily in the street, just beyond the blotched streetlights. A background noise of people, echoes of whispers, whispers of echoes. But then a great city like London is never really silent, day or night, is it?

The man’s name is John Gould. He is a shop owner. Tomorrow he will celebrate the grand opening of his latest enterprise: a brand-new department store right in the centre of Oxford Street.

The new enterprise has a three-storey high frontage, with a classical portico. There are mahogany fittings throughout the store, an elegant staircase fronting the street, and a customer lift to elevate ladies and gentlemen by a gentle and pleasing process to the upper parts of the building.

There are plate-glass display windows, featuring the latest merchandise brought in from all over the world, and tastefully arranged by expert dressers to tempt in the passing trade.

It will be a store to rival anything London has seen so far, and he hopes its name will live on into the future long after he has gone. He has even designed the colourful street signage himself. It reads: John Gould & Company: Never Beaten on Price.

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