The Hanover Square Affair
1st in the Captain Lacey mystery series
Author: Ashley Gardner
Finished: 17 August 2007
Who: Captain Gabriel Lacey
When: April 1816
From the back: Hanover Square is one of the wealthier neighborhoods of London, certainly not an area where one would expect a riot. However Captain Lacey spies a mob howling for blood before a group of cavalrymen disperses them — and the leader of the rabble is felled by a bullet in the back.
Comments: Last year I expanded my reading horizons to mysteries and I started eight different series, not including J. D. Robb’s “In Death”. I didn’t care for two of them, but I’ve found several more potential replacements. One of them was the “Mr. & Mrs. Darcy” series. This is another.
Like the other series’ leads, Captain Gabriel Lacey stumbles into sleuthhood. He’s a former soldier, lame and living in genteel-poverty on half-pay — on his way to keep his appointment with the wife of his former commander — when he becomes involved with the father of the missing Jane Thornton. Lacey’s conscience won’t allow him to walk away from the distraught man, and he takes up the mission to learn what happened to Jane and her maid, Aimee. He is assisted, sort of, by Lucius Grenville — wealthy world-traveler/adventurer with exquisite taste and the darling of the Ton. Grenville has the resources and the connections Lacey lacks. They get involved in another missing persons case and the mysterious death of a servant.
Lacey is short-tempered, brave to the point of recklessness, honorable, and suffers from melancholia. He also has a strong sense of justice — determined to find the real culprit instead of allowing an innocent man take the blame just because it’s convenient for everyone else. The son of an impoverished gentleman, he defied his father and joined the army, sponsored by Aloysius Brandon. Brandon became his mentor and commanding officer. Lacey saw him as the older brother he never had. However, they had a major falling out, and to save their respective reputations and that of their regiment, both voluntarily left the army. Louisa, Brandon’s wife, has been trying to reconcile them without success. Gardner maddeningly parcels out what caused the rift in the first place.
I liked Lacey a lot. With everything that has gone wrong in his life, he knows — because he sees it everyday — that there are others in a worse situation. He’s a gallant and treats woman with respect, even Black Nancy, the prostitute who is determined to have him. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this series.