Gallagher, Stephen. The Bedlam Detective
It is 1912 and Sebastian Becker, former Pinkerton detective, is now an investigator for the Lord Chancellor’s Masters of Lunacy. His job is to investigate those “men of property” suspected of insanity in order to determine whether or not they are, in fact, mad and therefore incapable of continuing to manage their own affairs and money. He is sent to Arnmouth, a small town home to the estate of Sir Owain Lancaster, a former master of industry suspected of having gone insane after a disastrous excursion to the Amazon which claimed the lives of his wife and son. Becker arrives only to become immediately caught up in the hunt for two missing children—who turn up murdered on Sir Owain’s lands. The parallels between this case and another many years earlier in which the girls survived their ordeal are obvious, and Becker begins to investigate, attempting to locate those earlier victims—one of whom is uncommunicative and unfriendly, the other of whom has repressed all memory of the events in question. Meanwhile, Sir Owain claims that the monsters which attacked his party in the Amazon have followed him home and it is these beasts who are to blame for the girls’ attacks. Becker must unravel the truth before more victims fall prey to the monster—or the man.
Well-plotted, with an interesting lead and a fascinating set-up, The Bedlam Detective is sure to appeal to fans of intelligent historical mystery.