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I have several writers on my selective list of authors who never let me down, and Susan Grossey is firmly placed on this list. Ever since I was introduced to Constable Sam Plank and his intrepid wife Martha, in Fatal Forgery, I have followed his exploits with great interest. There is something so entirely dependable about Sam, that to walk in his footsteps through nineteenth century London, is rather like being in possession of a superior time travelling machine, which picks you up and drops you smack in the middle of the dark and, it must be said, rather seedy underworld of late Regency crime.
In this, now the third book in the series, Sam is faced with an altogether darker dilemma than in previous stories. During one of his nightly perusals he hears a high pitched whimper and discovers a distressed prostitute, who is obviously in an advanced stage of pregnancy. The girl’s extreme youth poses somewhat of a moral dilemma for Sam, who on realising that he cannot leave her to give birth on the streets decides that the only course of action open to him is to take her into the safekeeping of his long suffering wife, Martha.
Inevitably, this kindly action has dramatic consequences and soon Sam and his intrepid sidekick, Wilson, are entangled in a story which is rich in intrigue and alive with scheming trickery. The dark and dirty underbelly of Regency London comes alive once again, and during Sam’s investigation into moral corruption at the highest level, we enter into the disreputable and shady world of scandalous bawdy houses, and of the domain of malevolent procuresses who look for those vulnerable members of society who are too weak to resist, and of the despicable and corrupt men who exploit and abuse those who are all too susceptible to small kindnesses.
The mystery at the heart of Worm in the Blossom is dark and desperate in equal measure. It shows human nature at its worst and also at its very best. Constable Sam Plank is as ever calm and efficient; slow to anger and quick to action, valiantly fighting for the defenceless, and as always, relentless in his pursuit of fraudulent and dishonest activity, but it must not be forgotten about the strength of his supporting characters, the astute Martha who is perhaps my favourite, closely followed by the equally stoical Wilson, who must be by now, in the running for most promising assistant.
There is no doubt that Susan Grossey has made the world of Regency crime her own; the writing, is as ever, crisp and clear, no superfluous waffle, just good old fashioned storytelling, with a tantalising beginning, an adventurous middle, and a wonderfully dramatic ending, which, when all is combined, add up to, quite simply, compelling reading.
Bring on Book 4…
Best read with a tankard of dark ale and a bread roll stuffed with roast pork….
Find Susan on her blog
Follow her on Twitter @susangrossey
You can read an interview with the author talking about her writing - here
My thanks to Susan for sharing Sam and his adventures with me.