The Ring

Severn House. (Grand & Batchelor Victorian, Bk. 5). Jan. 2019. 224p. ISBN 9781780291093. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9781780109992. M
This fifth "Grand & Batchelor" mystery (after The Island) has Victorian-era "private enquiry agents" Matthew Grand and James Batchelor deeply embedded in the muddy environs of the Thames. After Emilia, the wife of timber merchant Selwyn Byng, goes missing, he receives a note demanding ransom and no police involvement. He calls in the duo when he receives a package containing a finger with Emilia's ring on it. Then more gruesome body parts are seen bobbing around in the Thames. The enquiry agents are surrounded by a host of quirky characters. While there are macabre elements here and lots of 19th-century detail, everything seems filtered through a comic lens, and Grand and Batchelor can seem like a double act, appearing between engagements at the Hippodrome.
VERDICT If you can imagine Dickens's Our Mutual Friend as adapted by Gilbert and Sullivan, you have the gist of this medley of mystery and comedy that proves there are still small treasures to be unearthed by mudlarks (river scavengers) in the debris found along the Thames.
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