Wild Frontier Press, Kindle, 77p
Reviewed by Katy Oâ€™Dowd
Detective Inspector Carter of the Yard is called to the Tower of London when one of the Queenâ€™s most valuable jewels is pilfered â€“ the infamous, and cursed, Star of Arabia diamond. Stumped, the good fellow turns to retired (or so he thinks) locksport Jessica, Lady Thrillington for help in catching the perpetrator or perpetrators. And when word reaches him that the Queen herself has heard of the theft and is en route, his need for speed reaches epic proportions.
Meanwhile, Jessica has found the jewel in the basement of her really rather ingenious home â€“ which has an analytical engine and all manner of other devices therein.
But who put it there? Who is tracking Lady Thrillington down? Is shadowy master-criminal the Golum Master back from the dead? And will Carter remain a gentleman when he sees Jessica in her working garments?
The Case of the Cursed Star is a good, old-fashioned mystery with a heart of steam. Pacy â€“and my goodness, how â€“ with a kick-ass heroine, and a china cup or three of Earl Grey tea, it is a very enjoyable read with all manner of steampunky goodness. Add to that Lady Thrillingtonâ€™s manservant Jeffers, a steed of steel, murderous metal mechanical rats, a steam Brougham… well, you get the picture.
But the steampunk isnâ€™t overdone, as can sometimes be the case, the story is strong, characters likeable, and the writing has some lovely flourishes. And as with good mysteries, a mystery remains at the end. A marvellous read, if somewhat short at 75 pages.