The Corpse Played Dead by Georgina Clarke
Before I even start reviewing this book, I just want to comment on how utterly stunning the cover for it is. It was one of the rare cases where I looked at the cover and just had to read the book. And I must say, the book really does live up to that fantastic cover, because it’s an excellent and genuinely different read, with a sex worker heroine helping Bow Street investigators solve crimes in the Georgian era. While the date isn’t stated, two real historical figures who appear place it sometime around 1750-1760 or so, and the author does a stellar job of placing the reader in that time period with realistic portrayal of the gritty lives of the lower classes at the time.
Lizzie Hardwicke is only 19, but she’s a world-weary, experienced, high-class prostitute in London. An evening at the theatre promises some entertainment as well as exposure to potential new wealthy clients, but when the night ends in tragedy Lizzie is approached by Mr. Davenport, a Bow Street investigator she’s worked with before, to ask if she’d consider going undercover in the theatre. Even though the job would present both a loss of income and a status drop for her, Lizzie can’t resist the challenge.
There’s a colourful cast of characters, but the core group are kept fairly tight so there’s no sense of being too many for the book. I really didn’t see the twist coming any more than Lizzie did, but looking back the clues had been carefully planted right from the beginning. It was really cleverly done.
Don’t go into this expecting a romance because there’s really only the faintest hint of one; Lizzie is jaded, despite her youth, and her potential love interest is ‘respectable’ and all too aware of her profession. I’d be interested to see how this will progress in future books in the series, though. Five stars for an unputdownable read!
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.