Genre: Historical Mystery
Setting: London, England in 1900
First Sentence: It was a warm spring day.
This novel is the fourth in Spencer's Inspector Blackstone mystery series which currently runs to twelve novels.
It all starts with a fire set by an arsonist in an abandoned warehouse. Inspector Sam Blackstone and his partner Archie Patterson are assigned to the case. The firebug sends Blackstone a threatening message: The government must pay 100,000 pounds or the fires will continue.
Of course the government refuses to pay the ransom. Blackstone feels it is his duty to prevent further fires. Unfortunately there are other incidents. A boat is on the river is torched. And then a bomb is set in London. Fortunately, the bomb doesn't go off.
After the fire on the boat, a body is found in the river. The cause of death seems obvious. Blackstone hears of a doctor practicing the infant science of criminal forensics. The doctor uses science to investigate, and provides valuable information.
Along the way, the clues lead Blackstone on. It seems that once again, a culprit might go free because he is a member of the upper class. Sam thinks he knows who the firebug is, he just can's prove it.
What is the real reason behind the firebug's crimes?
And why does the culprit keep sending his anonymous messages to Sam?
Once again, Sally Spencer ( the pen name for Alan Rustage ) has created a great novel. Like the others in the series, this one was great fun to read.
I really like the cast of characters. Blackstone is always guided by his sense of duty to solve cases in a truthful manner. His partner, Archie Patterson always seems to "know a bloke" who can help by providing some valuable information. And Doctor Ellie Carr is a strong willed woman working in the male driven society of London in the early twentieth century. Archie and Dr. Carr are characters so interesting that they could be the stars of their own spin-off series.
For me, this was a very pleasurable read. I enjoyed it.
It looks like this novel has been retitled as Blackstone and the Burning Secret