4* (out of 5*)
Ok, ok, so I picked this up purely because I was staying in Whitechapel for a few days and felt compelled to read something connected with Jack the Ripper. And then five minutes into the story I realise it’s set in a different part of London – more towards Baker Street than Whitechapel. Oh, well….it certainly didn’t detract from the story. I mean how could it really? It has such fabulous writing like this in it:
“Robert Bunting and Ellen his wife sat before their dully burning, carefully-banked-up fire.
The room, especially when it be known that it was part of a house standing in a grimy, if not exactly sordid, London thoroughfare, was exceptionally clean and well-cared-for. A casual stranger, more particularly one of a Superior class to their own, on suddenly opening the door of that sitting-room; would have thought that Mr. and Mrs. Bunting presented a very pleasant cosy picture of comfortable married life.”
But Mr and Mrs Bunting are far from cosy. In fact they are so close to ruin that they advertise for a lodger to take one of their rooms. When a few days later a lodger appears, they are delighted. That is until they suspect that their new lodger – Mr. Sleuth – is responsible for a series of murders.
What ensues is a psychological thriller in which both Mr and Mrs Bunting are left wondering whether or not to report Mr Sleuth to the police, but as neither wants to worry the other they put off any discussions until fate takes an inevitable turn.
It is well worth a read.
[N.B. The story derives its suspense from well drawn-out characters and a solid – though simple – story line rather than from gruesome and gory details.]