The Nightingale Affair

Algonquin. May 2023. 400p. ISBN 9781643750392. $28. M
Set in the late half of the 19th century, Mason’s second mystery featuring Inspector Charles Field (following The Darwin Affair) immerses readers in the gritty reality of the Crimean war and the politics of the era. Brimming with real-life characters from the time period, including the title’s namesake, Florence Nightingale, the book’s language and tone are firmly grounded in the time and place. Inspector Charles Field tracks down a ruthless serial killer who strikes fear into the hearts of women, most specifically, the Nightingale nurses. In Crimea, blood-stained murder victims are found with their mouths sewn shut with an embroidered rose. Excellent police work seems to tie up loose ends when the prime suspect turns up dead. The intrigue re-emerges 16 years later in London, when a body is found with an embroidered rose token at the crime scene. Is it a copycat crime, or has the true killer been lurking in the shadows for over a decade?
VERDICT While it all too accurately portrays the misogyny of the era, this mystery will keep readers captivated and will be popular with admirers of Victorian detective novels.
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