This month sees the publication of Tessa Harris’ latest mystery novel, The Angel Makers. Prior to reading this book I was familiar with her previous novels in the Dr Thomas Silkstone mystery series, and The Angel Makers is the second in her Constance Piper mystery series.
I was first drawn to this story as it is a historical mystery with events taking place in Victorian England, a time in which the presence of Jack the Ripper left many women in fear on London’s streets. But whilst this presence was a well known one, we soon discover that there are more sinister goings on around the city, as vulnerable women turn to others for help, only to find themselves and those they treasure most at risk. There are women who are unmarried, who are left with little option but to leave their children in others care to avoid the stigma attached to motherhood out of wedlock. These women then find themselves unwittingly handing their babies over to ‘baby farmers’ who are paid to provide care but who may have a darker side. It is here that flower seller Constance Piper, who happens to be gifted with clairvoyance, finds herself involved, as she is aware of the presence of a baby farmer who may have something to hide.
The eerie atmosphere in this story is well portrayed from the start as Harris builds up a picture of life in Victorian London and the challenges it brings. And of course there is the presence of a killer casting a shadow over the city and a series of grisly crimes that leave the city in fear. The story alternates between the perspectives of Constance and the spirit of her lost friend Emily. With Constance’s clairvoyance she is able to be guided by her late friend, who can see events unfold across the city. This added a paranormal element to the mystery which was interesting and not something I have come across before. I did enjoy the differing perspectives and the gradual reveal of information as the characters uncover the truth behind the troubling events in their city. And I also enjoyed the different plot threads to this story, as alongside the cruelty of the baby farmers there was also the suspicious death of a young woman to be resolved…
The Angel Makers was an enjoyable read with an intriguing concept. It is the second in the Constance Piper series but whilst reading the first, The Sixth Victim, may help in providing background for Constance I felt this novel could be enjoyed as a standalone. It is to be published on 29th May 2018 by Kensington Publishing, with thanks to the publisher and the author for providing a copy for review.