Set in 1850s London, this enjoyable tale teems with lawless rogues
and wronged heroines. The plot concerns Natalie Meadows, a 'fallen
woman' on a quest to unravel the mystery of her friend Ellen's
murder. We are presented with a Dickensian array of suspects, most
of whom guard dark secrets. The novel is tightly structured,
interweaving character, setting and circumstance with great skill.
Jackson allows no time for breath, and the final chapters hurtle
through a number of twists before providing a satisfying, if rather
bleak, conclusion. Jackson's characterization is robust. The
friendship between Natalie and Ellen is convincing and poignant,
and also impressive are the criminal Henry Shaw, anguished Daniel
Quill and the obsequious Arthur Wilkes. But perhaps the most
remarkable character is London as it broods over the whole
proceedings. Jackson's descriptions of the grubby, deprived back
streets are highly evocative: Victorian social life is depicted
unflinchingly, and the descriptions of scurrilous gutter press men,
sooty commuters and gin-addled prostitutes remind us of how little
as well as how much has changed. Jackson's dialogue is lean yet
effective, communicating a vivid sense of Victorian hierarchy - the
competitive conversations between prostitutes are particularly well
observed. This is a taut thriller that will be enjoyed by all who
harbour no illusions about Victorian England. (Kirkus UK)
A young woman, Natalie Meadows, jumps from Blackfriars Bridge, escaping from the horror she has just witnessed. But she is rescued and feels duty-bound to find out who murdered her best friend, the music hall star Nellie Warwick, and why. Natalie reinvents herself as Flora Thorne and finds a position as housemaid to the Reverend Wallace and his daughter. From the sanctuary of their home, she is able to investigate the circumstances of Nellie's murder. What she uncovers is a conspiracy of silence and corruption, and of unscrupulous men preying on women like herself and Nellie. Her attempts to unmask the killer and to bring him to justice exact a heavy price on Natalie.
LONDON DUST is a powerful evocation of the underbelly of Victorian London, full of flavour, completely convincing and utterly gripping.
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