No Stone Unturned
(The Lucy Lawrence Mysteries Series)
By Pam Lecky
A suspicious death, stolen gems and an unclaimed reward: who will be the victor in a deadly game of cat and mouse?
London October 1886
Trapped in a troubled marriage, Lucy Lawrence is ripe for an adventure. But when she meets the enigmatic Phineas Stone, over the body of her husband in the mortuary, her world begins to fall apart.
When her late husband’s secrets spill from the grave, and her life is threatened by the leader of London’s most notorious gang, Lucy must find the strength to rise to the challenge. But who can she trust and how is she to stay out of the murderous clutches of London’s most dangerous criminal?
“Well, this is wonderful news. I almost feel honoured. I have a master criminal and a disgruntled Kashmiri maharajah to fend off. How exciting my life has become!”
Had it only been this morning since Lucy Lawrence had bemoaned her lonely existence and had longed for adventure? But when a constable from Vine Street Station had knocked on her door, life as Lucy knew it would be irrevocable changed forever.
Lucy had so desperately hoped she could rekindle the spark between herself and her husband, Charles. But now it was too late. Too late for Charles and too late for her. As she tries to come to terms with her tragic loss, Lucy receives an unexpected visit. It is a visit that makes Lucy question if she ever really knew her husband at all…
From a knock on the door to a desperate flight through London to see justice served, No Stone Unturned (The Lucy Lawrence Mysteries Series) by Pam Lecky is, in all ways, a historical mystery triumph.
So often historical mysteries follow a male protagonist, therefore I was very excited to discover that Lecky had bucked the trend and given her readers a female lead character. I was immediately drawn to Lucy. She is this wonderfully brave young woman who would not be swayed nor coerced into doing something she did not want to do. However, in her moment of weakness, Lucy turns to her family for support and yet what she receives is nothing short of horrifying. Lucy soon realises that if she has any hope of finding peace, both emotionally and physically, then she must take her life into her own hands. I thought Lucy’s depiction was sublime. Here is a heroine who is used so badly by both her husband and her family, and yet she does not let herself become bitter. She is a very determined young woman who is desperate to solve the mystery of her husband’s death and the puzzle of the stolen jewels. Lecky has done a wonderful job in giving her readers a heroine who they can really get behind and root for.
Phineas Stone is a character that intrigued me. He is astute, intelligent, and more importantly, morally accountable. Lecky does give us a tantalising glimpse into his backstory, and for a self-assured man, it was interesting to witness a different side to him — a vulnerable side. I thought Stone’s depiction was absolutely fabulous.
Lucy, despite being the daughter of a wealthy aristocrat, and living in the 19th century, is remarkably intuitive. I thought it was an inspired idea by Lecky to tell this story from Lucy’s perspective. Lecky allows the reader to solve the mystery along with Lucy, which helps to make this book an addictive and compelling read. Also, Stone, being a specialist investigator, is working on several cases at once, and it would have made for a somewhat disjointed story if Lecky had decided to write from his perspective as well. There is a hint of romance between the two protagonists, but this not a romance book. It is very much a historical mystery with authentic, historically depicted characters.
One of the themes that runs through Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes adventures is that of the utter incompetence of the police force. Lecky has come away from that stereotypical portrayal to an extent, although not completely. The officers at Vine Street Station are relatively competent, and they work alongside Stone to help bring criminals to justice. However, the police in Yorkshire seem rather colloquial and are almost beholding to the aristocracy who live in their area. They lack proper investigational skills and come across as utterly inept while they try to appease the anxieties of the elite. Stone, coming from a wealthy background, is, therefore, quite a contradiction. He seeks only justice and is not cowed by members of his class. However, there is an incident where one of the perpetrators does not have to account for her crimes simply because she is old and from the aristocracy. I could not help but wonder if the same consideration would have occurred for someone with a lower social standing.
This book vividly demonstrates the cultural milieu of the era. There may well have been a woman on the throne of England, but it was still very much a man’s world where the aristocracy was swimming, and in some cases drowning, in their own self-important and privileged existence. Lecky clearly demonstrates the social divide by depicting the haves and the have-nots throughout this novel. Although there are antagonists on both ends of the social spectrum, it is the cruel manipulation from members of her own family that disturbs Lucy, and the reader, the most. This sense of power stops some members of the Somerville family from seeing a situation objectively. Instead of acting with rational thought, they choose to place the burden of their own failures upon someone else’s shoulders. Their lack of shame, and even reproach at their intended victim when their plans are thwarted, only goes to show the narcissistic nature of their characters as well as the time in which this book is set in. I thought the aristocratic antagonists in this novel were particularly well-drawn. Lecky has captured the very essence of the privileged class, and although Lecky does not tar them all with the same brush, there is a sense that her characters all feel personally entitled to some extent, including our brave protagonist because although Lucy is facing financial hardship, she is not entirely without means.
The aristocracy is not the only social class that Lecky explores. The dangerous London criminal underworld is also portrayed with a striking realism which made for a very chilling plot. With characters such as Nathaniel Marsh, Lecky allows her readers to glimpse into a world that is as dark as it is treacherous. Marsh’s threatening demeanour and his arrogance at thinking he is above the law is played out with a sinister authenticity. Marsh was a character who really made my skin crawl — he is as calculated as he is cruel, and he did not need to be present for his presence to be felt. Marsh has the resources and connections to make life for Lucy very unpleasant indeed. Yet, he is also canny enough to seemingly always be one step ahead of the police.
The historical detailing in this book is as luxurious as it is vibrant. Lecky gives her readers a vivid sense of time and place. The hours of research that has gone into the novel has to be commended. Lecky has used that research and produced a story that is ringing with historical legitimacy.
With an enthralling narrative, No Stone Unturned (The Lucy Lawrence Mysteries Series) by Pam Lecky is a novel that commanded my attention from the very first sentence to that final full-stop. This is a novel that is deserving to be read over and over again. I am certainly looking forward to reading the other books in this series.
I Highly Recommend.
Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.
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No Stone Unturned
Pam Lecky is an Irish historical fiction author, writing crime, mystery, romance and the supernatural. Pam is represented by the Hardman & Swainson Literary Agency in London. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Society of Authors and has a particular love of the late Victorian era/early 20th Century.
Her debut novel, The Bowes Inheritance, was awarded the B.R.A.G Medallion; shortlisted for the Carousel Aware Prize 2016; and long-listed for the Historical Novel Society 2016 Indie Award.
Her short stories are available in an anthology, entitled Past Imperfect, which was published in April 2018.
June 2019, will see the release of the first book in the Lucy Lawrence Mystery series, No Stone Unturned, a fast-paced Victorian mystery/crime, set in London and Yorkshire. The sequel, Footprints in the Sand will be released later this year.