Title: Death by Silver
Authors: Melissa Scott,
Artwork: Ben Baldwin
Cover and interior design: Alex Jeffers
Publisher: Lethe Press
Amazon: Buy Link Death by Silver
Genre: Historical/Fantasy/Murder mystery
Length: novel/272pages/110 K words
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Review Summary: Death by Silver is magical in more ways than one – an enthralling murder mystery with suspense and romance rolled into a fantastical Victorian London. I was definitely enchanted.
His practice newly established, metaphysician Ned Mathey can’t afford to turn away any clients. But the latest Londoner to seek Ned’s magical aid gives him pause: Mr Edgar Nevett, an arrogant banker, is the father of the bully who made Ned’s life hell at boarding school. Nevertheless, Ned accepts the commission to ensure the Nevett family silver bears no ancient or modern curses, and then prepares to banish the Nevett family to unpleasant memory again. Until Edgar Nevett is killed by an enchanted silver candlestick—one of the pieces Ned declared magically harmless.
Calling on his old school friend Julian Lynes—private detective and another victim of the younger Nevett—Ned races to solve the murder, clear the stain on his professional reputation, and lay to rest the ghosts of his past.
Assisted by Ned’s able secretary Miss Frost, who has unexpected metaphysical skills of her own, Ned and Julian explore London’s criminal underworld and sodomitical demimonde, uncover secrets and scandals, confront the unexpected murderer and the mysteries of their own relationship.
In Death by Silver veteran authors Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold introduce a Victorian London where magic works, influencing every aspect of civilized life, and two very appealing detectives.
Julian Lynes and Ned Mathey Series
Despite his misgivings and nightmarish memories about the horrible physical abuse he suffered at the hands of Victor Nevett, a bully who attended the same boarding school he did years ago, metaphysician Ned Mathey accepted an assignment from Victor’s father because he couldn’t afford not to, having only recently set up his practice and little money was coming in to pay the bills. When he arrived at the Nevett house, his client asked Ned to remove a curse from his impressive silver collection. Although Ned tested the various silver pieces he could find no evidence of a curse or enchantment, but he cleansed all the silver and his client seemed satisfied. However, shortly after, Mr. Nevett was found dead in his study, murdered by a heavy silver candlestick that was cursed.
With his reputation somewhat tarnished, Ned was gratified when he was asked to help Scotland Yard investigate the murder and he recommended that his old school friend (and recent secret f**k buddy), private detective Julian Lynes assist him on the case. Once the investigation got going bodies started piling up and our daring duo found it difficult to figure out the perpetrator among the many clues, suspects and red herrings. To complicate matters even further, Victor Nevett hired Ned to find out who murdered his father, as the entire family was under suspicion and he wanted to clear their names. But before the detectives reached any conclusions Victor dropped his own bombshell which made it extremely difficult for Ned, and especially Julian, to decide whether they should aggressively continue following up on leads which could conceivably free someone they hated with a passion, or they could look the other way and let the murderer get away with his crimes.
The prose, dialogue and atmosphere in Death by Silver were wonderfully crafted and this riveting adventure/mystery was highlighted by characters who were all well drawn, even the lowly under-house maids and kitchen maids merited attention from the authors. There was so much in the book that set it apart, and the detail was incredible, down to the agony columns in the newspapers that Julian scanned several times a day looking for clues and work. Miss Frost, Ned’s assistant, was not only three dimensional but, contrary to the way women were portrayed in historical books as only being interested in getting married, having babies and managing their husbands’ households, she was extremely intelligent, resourceful and a skilled investigator in her own right.
The two protagonists were not the kind of men you would likely meet in historical books set in Victorian London even though their speech, clothing, food and entertainment were consistent with the times. Gay sex was openly practised within select groups without fear of being betrayed, and Ned and Julian frequently spent the night in each other’s rooms under the not so watchful eyes of their landladies. Of course since this is a romance there were the usual misunderstandings and hurt feelings around what each man ultimately wanted from their relationship, and how romance vs sex would play into its resolution.
Magic was everywhere and I enjoyed watching Ned work his way through the investigation using his metaphysical skills, with Julian’s detection ability contributing handsomely. This is definitely not your mother’s Victorian London as metaphysics (or magic) is used as an aid for everything from hangovers to housework! There was even a carnivorous plant that loved bacon, and Julian spent a lot of time feeding it. 🙂
I had never read any books by either Melissa Scott or Amy Griswold and what a great treat Death by Silver turned out to be – I had stopped reading historical romances a few years ago but this writing duo may make me return if they write a sequel. I initially wanted to read Silver because of the mystery but became enthralled with the characters, the vivid atmosphere and worldbuilding of Victorian London in an alternate fantasy world and two MCs who were original, very unusual and engaging. Death by Silver is a rich mystery/romance with two protagonists who kept me engaged throughout, and if at times the prose was a little detailed I was never tempted to skip ahead. I can’t say enough about how impressed I was by this story.
If you’re looking for a superb tale told by two talented writers who drew their characters lovingly, I would strongly recommend that you try Death by Silver which has everything you could possibly want: a solid mystery, superb world building, magic used in ways you could not imagine, two friends on the way to becoming lovers while engaged in trying to expose a murderer on a killing spree, not to mention that some of their helpers were also criminals. What more could you possibly want? In some ways the denouement reminded me of Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot and I absolutely loved how the case was resolved..