Mini-Review: The Hellfire Conspiracy

Another fascinating entry in the Barker & Llwelyn series from Will Thomas!

I do wish that poor Thomas Llwelyn would catch a break from his creator and not have to fall in love with someone in every book.  He's like a Victorian Male Taylor Swift.

Small quibbles aside, this was a fun and distracting read (if you'd class Victorian murder investigations with forays into dubious dens of iniquity as "fun," which I personally do).  The ending had a soup├žon of Dan Brown about it, what with secret societies and sex orgies and whatnot, but Thomas definitely made it work.

Barker and Llwelyn's office time is rudely interrupted by a cavalryman barging into their office, begging Barker to find his daughter, who may have been taken by white slavers.  After the initial say what? reaction, Barker agrees.  Finding a missing girl in Victorian London is a nigh-impossible task, but according to his own code of morality, Barker feels obligated to try.

The secondary plot of the book concerns Thomas' grappling with the death of his wife and being in the company of the man who put him behind bars while his wife grew weaker and succumbed to her illness.  The ending was very touching.

I am rather amused at some of the righteously indignant and blusteringly angry reviews of this on Goodreads.  One of the themes of the book is socialism--religious socialism, to be specific.  People are caterwauling that the author has this vendetta against socialists because he's a Republican (that's nice, dear) and socialists are treated poorly in the book.  I didn't notice any of that.  Both Barker and Llwelyn are wary of socialist ideas, but that makes them pretty much like a lot of people in Victorian England.  I can't imagine the gentry of London pounding on the doors of the socialists and demanding to be instructed in their ways.  It's a natural reaction to a new(ish) way of thinking.  But they certainly don't exhibit "disgust" or "[wax] vitriolic" on the topic, as one Goodreads reviewer screeches.

A nice, solid mystery with great period detail.


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