‘Death of a Dancer/ A Dangerous Affair’ is Caro Peacock’s second book featuring the young female Victorian sleuth Liberty Lane. I found the first book – ‘Death At Dawn/ A Foreign Affair’ a bit light, but this book seemed to have a lot more substance and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Since the death of her father in the first book, Liberty Lane is learning to cope with life and earn a living on her own in London. She relies on a few friends of her father’s – Daniel Suter (who composes and conducts theatre music) and Toby Kennedy (a violinist who knows the right sort of people around London). She also has new friends and acquaintances – Amos Legge (a stablehand who manages to find out all the latest gossip), Mrs Martley (with whom she shares lodgings) and the young Benjamin Disraeli (who admires Libby’s sleuthing talents).
When Disraeli asks Libby to spy on a dancer known as Columbine, Libby finds it easy since Columbine is currently dancing at the theatre where Suter and Kennedy are working. But when Columbine is murdered, Jenny Jarvis – the girl with whom Suter has fallen in love- is arrested for the murder.
Libby is not sure how she feels about Suter’s feelings for Jenny, but she knows that Jenny is innocent. She only has a short time before Jenny’s trial to prove it.
Libby is a feisty character trying to live within the constraints of Victorian life. She has very little money but gives the appearance of having more. She walks a very fine line when going out as a single woman without an attendant. With the help of her friends, she manages to investigate from the wealthiest areas of London through to the poorest slums, outwitting those who would attempt to get in her way.
The book kept me hanging on till the very end and when the murderer was eventually revealed, it came as a complete surprise.
At the end of the book, Libby’s future is looking much brighter and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens in the next book – ‘A Corpse in Shining Armour’.
Book Published 2008