Putnam, Oct 2003, 24.95, 272 pp.
A young child, no bigger than eight, is fished out of the Thames River in London of 1774. When Sir John Fielding of 4 Bow Street, the magistrates of London and Winchester hears of this, he sends his protégée Jeremy Proctor to investigate. A month ago Alice Plummer reported her daughter was stolen and Sir John thinks that the child in the water was Margaret Plummer. When Jeremy arrives on the docks, he learns that the child was naked and there is evidence of sexual intercourse.
The autopsy reveals that the child was indeed brutally molested and smothered to death. When Jeremy tries to find the mother, a neighbor says that she disappeared with a large sum of money after giving her child to a man that said he would place her with wealthy parents who couldn't have a child. When Jeremy and Alice's brother Deuteronomy, a famous jockey, manage to locate Alice in Newmarket she is honestly horrified to find out what happened to her child. She manages to give the authorities the slip and take justice into her own hands but Sir John and Jeremy are determined to find the man who actually killed the child and bring him to justice.
Historical mysteries don't get better than THE PRICE OF MURDER. The story is told in the first person narrative from Jeremy's perspective years after the events of this novel have taken place. His asides to the audience are thoroughly entertaining and make the readers feel as if they are part of the tale. Depending on how one feels about animals, justice was not meted out totally by a human agent.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner