A good Victorian murder mystery. Interesting characters, lots of inter-connecting plot points, and some very inventive methods of murder add up to a good read.
When a touring theatre company arrives in the small English town of Wigan at the same time that the less reputable Magic Lantern company presents their "Phantasmagoria" show, it seems like a well earned opportunity for the town recently devastated by a miner's strike to enjoy some innocent entertainments.
Unfortunately, it seems that murder is also on the marquee, when the owner of the Phantasmagoria show is murdered in a MOST vicious and unusual way. When a second murder follows shortly after, the local Seargent Slevin will have his hands full trying to figure out the whys and wherefors of these murders.
This book moves at a very slow and steady pace. Even the murders themselves, as creative and brutal as they are in method, somehow do not come across as shocking, as much as muted in how they are written.
The story itself is interesting, and if you like to try to figure out the murders before the killer and reasoning are revealed there are plenty of clues in this to allow you to do so.
The best thing about this book for me was the sense of place of Victorian England which the author does an excellent job of portraying. We can almost see the mist in certain scenes, and feel the coal dust in our lungs that covers the town as the author sets the scene throughout the book. He also gives a good understanding to the reader of what life was like at this time, and why people - who in normal circumstances would likely be quite ordinary and law-abiding - might suddenly become homicidal under the right situation.
Overall, a solid Victoriana murder mystery. Not fabulous, but an enjoyable read for sure.