Review 1606: Things in Jars

Best of Ten!
Imagine a combination of Victorian London, eccentric Dickensian characters, a ghost, a supernatural being of myth, hints of Jane Eyre, a lady detective, and a fascination with grotesqueries. If you can imagine that, you might go a little way toward a hint of this unusual novel.

Bridie Devine, the lady detective, has been summoned to a graveyard to examine a dead body found shackled in a crypt. On her way there, she meets a scantily clad ghost, a prizefighter named Ruby Doyle who claims to know her and follows her on her investigation.

But her real case comes when a baronet, Edward Berwick, hires her through a Doctor Harbin to find his daughter, who has been kidnapped. As she investigates, though, she learns the girl was kept alone in the west wing of the house, and there are rumors that she is some kind of unusual creature. Bridie begins to believe that the kidnappers, who probably include the girl’s nurse, mean to sell her to some freak show.

Bridie has had a difficult path in life that includes encounters when she was a girl with Gideon Eames, the sociopathic son of a man who rescued her from poverty. She thought he was dead but finds he is very much alive.

With an entourage that includes a seven-foot-tall bearded maid, Bridie braves dead bodies, attacks, and visits to a freak show as she pursues the child. We know from the beginning that the girl was taken by her nurse and Dr. Harbin, but more people who want to possess or sell this valuable child get involved.

Not quite at first but very soon I got so involved with this quirky novel that I dropped everything until I finished it. Bridie is an interesting, likable character, Ruby Doyle is endearing even though he is constantly hitching up his drawers, the novel was exciting at times. What’s not to love?

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9 thoughts on “Review 1606: Things in Jars

  1. Helen January 28, 2021 / 2:16 pm

    I really enjoyed this too – it was one of my books of the year a few years ago. I thought Bridie and Ruby were both great characters.

  2. ilovedays January 28, 2021 / 8:15 pm

    Looks fun and absorbing. Perfect distraction from politics.

  3. Fatma February 1, 2021 / 12:38 am

    so glad you enjoyed this!! it was one of my fav novels of last year ☺

    • whatmeread February 1, 2021 / 9:43 am

      Actually, I read it last year and supposed it would be on my Best of the Year list, but I didn’t get my review up on time. It will have to go next year.

  4. Naomi February 9, 2021 / 5:20 pm

    Ooo… You make this sound so good. And what a pretty cover!

    • whatmeread February 9, 2021 / 5:44 pm

      Yes, It is, both a pretty cover and a really good book.

  5. Jane April 28, 2021 / 10:48 am

    Sounds brilliant, on the list!!

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