I’m a huge historical mystery fan, and I’ve had my eye on the Cyrus Barker/Thomas Llewelyn series by Will Thomas for quite a while. So I was happy to receive an advance review copy of the latest title in the series, Lethal Pursuit. I was a little bit nervous starting out with the 11th title in the series, but it worked out okay. Thomas does a good job of weaving enough backstory into the narrative that I didn’t feel lost, or as if I were missing anything too much by not having read the rest of the series.
Lethal Pursuit was a fun read, and I finished it over the course of only a couple of days. The writing is crisp and the story moves along at an enjoyable pace. It’s set in the late 19th century, in what we, with hindsight, know is the run-up to the first World War. If I were to try to describe this book, it felt sort of like one of the Sherlock Holmes stories where Holmes is working for the British government, or possibly one of the Agatha Christie stories that are more like spy novels than traditional mysteries. I don’t know if this is traditional for this series, or if earlier titles are more like classic whodunnits, but I was fine with this one the way it was!
Without giving too much away, at the beginning of the story we are introduced to an object that an agent has given his life to bring to England, and the rest of the story revolves around the efforts of Barker and Llewelyn to simultaneously deal with the object at (more or less) the behest of the British government, and also figure out who killed the agent. The author does a great job of coming up with an amusing cast of suspects, including an American tent revival preacher, an atheist, a rabbi, a collector, a foreign government, and a few others. I was kept guessing all along the way, and there’s a nice plot twist that adds a bit of spice to the end. I also very much liked the interplay between Barker and Llewelyn. Llewelyn is the narrator, and although he has apparently recently been made a partner in their private enquiry firm, he still plays an Archie Goodwin-esque role. Llewelyn’s new wife, Barker’s major domo, and Barker and Llewelyn’s office clerk also play significant supporting roles.
All-in-all, I enjoyed this book a lot. I try not to contribute to “star-inflation” by giving too many five-star reviews, but Lethal Pursuit gets one. I’d like to express my thanks to St. Martins/Minotaur for the review copy. And I now am going to go look for more titles in the series!