The Hangman’s Secret: A Victorian Mystery (Victorian Mysteries #3) by Laura Joh Rowland


From award-winning author Laura Joh Rowland, a story about the darkness that lurks within and the deadly secrets that beg to be revealed.
Intrepid photographer Sarah Bain and her motley crew of friends are back to hunt criminals in the dark, seedy underbelly of Victorian London, but little do they know, the darkness may lurk closer than they first divined.
Photographer Sarah Bain and her friends Lord Hugh Staunton and sometime street urchin Mick O’Reilly are private detectives with a new gig―photographing crime scenes for London’s Daily World newspaper. The Daily World is the latest business venture of their sole client, Sir Gerald Mariner, a fabulously wealthy and powerful banker. 
One cold, snowy January morning, Sarah, Hugh, and Mick are summoned to the goriest crime scene they’ve ever encountered. A pub owner named Harry Warbrick has been found hanged and decapitated amid evidence of foul play. His murder becomes a sensation because he was England’s top hangman and he’s met the same fate that he inflicted on hundreds of criminals.Sir Gerald announces that the Daily World―meaning Sarah and her friends―will investigate and solve Harry Warbrick’s murder before the police do. The contest pits Sarah against the man she loves, Police Constable Barrett. She and her friends discover a connection between Harry Warbrick’s murder and the most notorious criminal he ever executed―Amelia Carlisle, the “Baby-Butcher,” who murdered hundreds of infants placed in her care. 

This book is the third in the Victorian Mysteries series but can certainly be read as a standalone. It is told from the perspective of our protagonist, Sarah Bain. A scrappy and independent gal, which was uncommon in such times. I really liked her character.

I must say I found this to be an intriguing premise for a novel. The author’s writing style has quality. She is efficient at providing background information that helps readers that haven’t read the first two books, to understand what is going on. The characters play well off one another and each has their individual roles in the story. Each also has their own troubles, which enliven and enrich the tale.

The characters were fascinating and likeable. An unlikely group of friends who are amateur sleuths, each having their own backstories that add more to the tale. There is suspense, mystery, romance-all set in 18990s London. Each of the characters add to the story and make it an enjoyable read. It is a page turner that had me guessing till the very end, and what an ending it was! I had no clue who the killer was, although I had suspicions throughout the story. There are many to be suspicious of. SO many suspects., but each is ruled out. Just as Sarah gets closer to solving the mystery, she finds herself in more imminent danger.

The book was paced quite well. A steady stream of action and introduction of characters helped the narrative to flow easily. This was an enjoyable read. An intense mystery, though it was a light read for me. It was engaging and entertaining. I plan to read the first two in the series so that I can get to know the characters better since they are all so interesting.

The only criticism I have, is the verbalizations between the characters didn’t seem to fit well given the time period. The conversations and verbiage used seemed more modern. This, I feel, was an oversight that could not be ignored given the fact that otherwise, everything seemed so authentic. SO, I am giving it a 4/5 stars. 

All in all, it is a book that I enjoyed and enough so that I will surely read more of her work. I would also recommend this book despite my one misgiving. 

I was given this book by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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