The headlines scream warnings about the ‘Butcher of Berner Street!’ and the journalist behind them – Leo Stanhope – is secretly thrilled to see the effect his words are having.
Leo’s previous work has largely been concentrated on more mundane issues but when an anonymous letter summons him to a club in East London, only for the owner of the club to be found murdered shortly afterwards, Leo sees a story worth pursuing. Not to mention an opportunity to make a name for himself.
Yet the more Leo digs, the stranger the story becomes, taking him from the club to a nearby convent, and into the past of a very unusual woman. But he is not the only one hunting for a killer. And it seems Leo’s initial newspaper reports may have put someone else in grave danger…
I requested this book last year from Netgalley, not realizing it was the third book in its series. But now I finally got around to picking up the first two books, and reading this third one. And I am so happy I did.
We follow Leo (born Lottie, the same person just lacking a tit) in his new job as a journalist when an annonymous letter summons him to an East End club, where he is faced by a female wrestler and a hanged man. Wanting to make an impression and write a sensational article he starts his own investigation and finds a culprit. But then he has to deal with the facts that he may have rushed into things, and that his writing may actually harm people.
Where the first book in this series focusses a lot on Leo as a person and his transgender identity, in the sequels it takes this fact and uses it to shine a different light on important themes. Where in the first book this was family and being a parent, here Leo is faced with the suffragete movement.
Although a lot of time is spent on character development, this doesn’t take away from the plot and the mystery. And again the solution takes us on an emotional ride and makes us question our morals. When someone does something bad, but for the right reasons… should we tell on them? Especially when someone else has already taken the blame for it?
This series is very easy to read and enjoy, but is also very complex and layered with a whole host of very well developed characters and interesting themes. Seeing where this book ends for Leo makes me think this is the last book in the series, and I am kinda sad about that. I would highly recommend picking this series up if you enjoy your historical mystery, but are looking for something a bit different.
CW: child abuse and (attempted) rape