Thursday, April 15, 2021

Dance With Death by Will Thomas

First Line: I heard him before I saw him: a thick, rich, two-toned baritone voice.
It's June of 1893, and the future Nicholas II of Russia is in London for the wedding of his cousin, Prince George. One of Nicholas's bodyguards is convinced that his employer is in danger, so he asks around to learn the name of the best private detective in the city. In no time at all, he's in the office of Clive Barker and his partner, Thomas Llewelyn, private enquiry agents.
Barker and Llewelyn aren't particularly anxious to accept the job because they know that it's going to drag them into a bureaucratic nightmare of red tape and fragile egos. However, when they are unwittingly involved in an assassination attempt, they change their minds and find themselves tracking a shadowy figure known as La Sylphide-- a master assassin no one has ever seen.
But to get to La Sylphide, Barker and Llewelyn still have to wade through motives that run the gamut from personal to political in order to stop an event that could throw the world into chaos.
I am a longtime fan of Will Thomas's Barker & Llewelyn historical mystery series set in Victorian London. These books are a marvelous blend of history, characterization, action, and humor. Thomas always does his homework when dealing with historical figures, and Dance With Death has a few. For those readers who don't like real people in their fiction, I'd just like to say that the author uses these historical figures as a framework for his story. They are not main characters, and that's a good thing because he already has a marvelous cast of fictional ones. 

As always, the story is told by twenty-eight-year-old Thomas Llewelyn, and I love his narration. Through the course of the series, readers have seen this young man grow and learn, and thankfully the years have honed his fine sense of humor and quick tongue. Barker is the strong, silent type, more like a Victorian James Bond than anything else, although he does play a good straight man to Thomas. As the two investigate further, two secondary characters are brought in: female detective (and typist) Sarah Fletcher, and habitue of the British Museum's reading room, Liam Grant. They have appeared in previous books, and I was glad to see them in Dance With Death. I hope Will Thomas continues to bring them both into future books because I love watching their stories unfold.

The mystery is a good one, and Thomas's setting of Victorian London is hard to beat. I always learn something about that city when I read one of these books. If you like historical mysteries set in London, you really can't go wrong with a Barker & Llewelyn novel. You can read Dance With Death as a standalone, but I've enjoyed the unfolding of Thomas's story so much that I hope you'll think about starting at the beginning with Some Danger Involved. This is a consistently high-quality series that shouldn't be missed.

Dance With Death by Will Thomas
eISBN: 9781250624789
Minotaur Books © 2021
eBook, 320 pages
Historical Mystery, #12 Barker & Llewelyn mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Net Galley


  1. The setting and style must be slightly vintage and I do so like that kind of read.

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, Cathy. I like the series, too, both for its sense of history and for the relationship between Barker and Llewellyn. I think Thomas does both very well. In my opinion, it's fairly consistently good, too, and you don't always get that in a series.


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