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Synopsis: Some years ago, Cyrus Barker matched wits with Sebastian Nightwine, an aristocrat and sociopath, and in exposing his evil, sent Nightwine fleeing to hide from justice somewhere in the far corners of the earth. The last thing Barker ever expected was to encounter Nightwine again—but the British government, believing they need Nightwine’s help, has granted him immunity for his past crimes, and brought him back to London. Nightwine, however, has more on his mind than redemption—and as Barker and Llewellyn set out to uncover and thwart Nightwine’s real scheme, they find themselves in the gravest danger of their lives.
Will Thomas’ Fatal Enquiry is the sixth book in his Baker and Llewlyn series. If you haven’t read any of the books in the series, it’s not necessary to do so in order to enjoy Fatal Enquiry. Thomas does a good job minimizing history from other books and at no point do you feel lost reading a book in an already established series.
We have good character development. Cyrus Baker is a gentleman enquiry agent and he’s a bit quirky. We don’t get to fully know him, but it’s easy to see that he’s not an easy man to work for. His assistant is Thomas Llewlyn who was once in jail for a crime and now devotes his time assisting Baker on cases. I had trouble with Llewlyn and wasn’t sure what to think of him. Though he narrates Fatal Enquiry, he’s a mystery and he’s very protective of his secrets as well as that of Baker’s. We have a few other secondary characters that are important including Terence Poole, an inspector at Scotland Yard. Then there’s Sebastian Nightwine, Barker’s former friend and now enemy. Nightwine remains shrouded in mystery throughout the novel and even now can’t really tell you what type of man he was. The real treat in Fatal Enquiry is Nightwine’s daughter and I won’t go into detail about her because I want you to meet her and make your own assumptions.
As I mentioned, narrative is first person via Llewlyn and he’s a trustworthy narrator though at times he’s a bit naive. I liked this because we as a reader know nothing about Baker and Llewlyn’s world. As a narrator, Llewlyn does a good job giving us details but still he holds back and I’m not sure if this is typical of Thomas’ writing or it’s just apparent in this book. In any event, I also came in expecting to either have Baker’s narrative or it be written in third person narrative. I admit, it was a bit of surprise to see it was Llewlyn we were getting and it was refreshing!
I debated with the rating between a three and four and in the end, decided on a three. While I enjoyed Llewlyn as a narrator, I wanted to know Barker more. I realize it’s difficult to get to know established characters once you pick up a book midway through series, but at times it felt that even Llewlyn doesn’t know Baker despite working for him. Then there’s the overall mystery; as far as mysteries go, this one had the potential to be intriguing, but instead it was a dead bore. Honestly, I would have liked to have seen more of the supposed wickedness of Nightwine. What I liked about Fatal Enquiry was Thomas’ use of historical figures. I always enjoy it when authors do this and it makes their world a little more real. Also, it is easy to see how much research Thomas must have conducted and I know some people tend to shy away from such books, but Thomas doesn’t overwhelm the reader with historical tidbits.
If you’re a fan of Victorian mysteries, you may want to check out Will Thomas’ series. Overall, Fatal Enquiry was an okay read and sometime in the future I’ll go back to check out the first in the series and see if I’m interested in reading more.