During a recent trip to my local bookshop, a member of staff (who knows my reading tastes) recommended “The Crown Agent” by Stephen O’Rourke.
I enjoy crime fiction. Sometimes, though, I yearn for some good old-fashioned sleuthing that doesn’t involve DNA, computer wizardry and digitised files!
That’s why a good historical crime book like this one appeals. The characters have to work harder, and you always end up learning about the era it’s set in, too.
“The Crown Agent” starts off in Edinburgh in 1829, when we meet Doctor Mungo Lyons. After a successful start to his medical career, he finds himself unable to practise as a surgeon as he’s been caught up in the ghastly Burke and Hare scandal.
The Crown, particularly the Treasury, need a clever and discreet man to investigate the case of a mysterious ship which has been shipwrecked off the coast of Scotland in mysterious circumstances . . . All hands on board are dead, a lighthouse keeper has been murdered and his assistant is missing. And then there’s the cargo . . .
From then on we’re taken on quite the adventure. It reminded of “The 39 Steps” and the pace never lets up. Along the way Mungo finds himself with a very interesting sidekick, but intrigue, conspiracies and danger are never far away.
Short story success
This is the debut novel of advocate and Member of the Institute of Chartered Arbitrators, Stephen O’Rourke.
Believe it or not, he initially wrote the character of Doctor Mungo Lyons for a short story competition. Which he subsequently won!
He then decided to turn the story into a novel and spent three years researching before finding success with a publisher.
If you like a rip-roaring adventure that spans the dark streets of Edinburgh to the blistering heat of Jamaica, this is for you! Let’s hope Doctor Lyons is currently being set up for another adventure!