The Fourteenth Letter – Claire Evans

9780751566406The Fourteenth Letter opens with poor Phoebe Stanbury having her throat slit by a mysterious stranger, who is covered in mud and strange tattoos, at her own engagement party. The beginning sets a high impact pace that does not drop for the whole story.

It’s set in London in the 19th Century, which is one of my favourite times to read about. The historical setting is brilliantly painted and bought to life and serves the perfect backdrop for this grim mystery.

The story follows a host of characters, each having alternating chapters in the book. There’s Will, a young solicitors apprentice; Harry, a detective reaching the end of his career; and Savannah, an American illegal immigrant who is still trying to live under the radar of the law. Each of them will be drawn into a story that doesn’t belong to them, but together they will make a fantastic team.

I love a yarn that is constantly taking me in a different directions and this absolutely did not disappoint. It’s so difficult to describe the plot without giving too much away but I will try: when Will goes to visit a mysterious client in lieu of Mr. Bridge, his employer, he accidentally sets of a series of events that will unravel his whole life before his eyes. Women are kidnapped, men are murdered and there is corruption rife in all institutions. There’s plenty of running through dark alleys, fighting off intruders, rifling through ancient manuscripts and some cheeky little British humour to top it off. It gets pretty dark, sometimes it really goes there, and I didn’t think it would be just a grim as it is in places but it adds an extra layer to the

The story itself is a little bit hard to believe but I absolutely didn’t care. It’s full of action and the paces manages to keep up the whole way through. I was a bit worried because of the length and the size of the text (I like a book to be a comfortable 300 pages!) but I flew through it, not wanting to put it down.

All in all I would highly recommend The Fourteenth Letter if you’re looking for a fun read to lose yourself in, full of conspiracies and hidden identities. I just loved it and if this is Evan’s debut then I can’t wait for what she brings us next.

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