Blackstone and the Tiger by Sally Spencer writing as Alan Rustage. Once again through the services of our excellent interlibrary loan service, I was able to read one of my favorite authors as the Daniel Boone Regional Library in Missouri supplied this Inspector Sam Blackstone adventure. Although Rustage does an adequate job of portraying London at the end of the 19th century, his real strength is the complexity of his plots. In this case, a kidnapping gang operating outside the normal city underworld and with exceptional precision and ruthlessness has come to Blackstone’s attention even before they commit their most elaborate and dramatic crime; one that has implications across the Empire to Her Majesty’s lands in turbulent India. Although the central investigator, Blackstone does not dominate these books and his Socratic discussions of events with his Sergeant Patterson allows readers to feel like they are examining the clues along with the two heroes. Patterson’s vast network of contacts throughout the city and within the government’s bureaucracies is an invaluable aid in the solution of the cases and gives him more depth than some secondary characters in other series. The additional characters relating to each book, whether they be a Russian spy or a Maharaja’s private secretary, allow readers to view different facets of each investigation.
Spencer has two other more modern historical mystery series that I have not read yet, but may be of interest to fans of different settings: one (written as James Garcia Woods) featuring Inspector Paco Ruiz in Madrid on the eve of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 and the other (written as Sally Spencer) showcasing Detective Chief Inspector Charlie Woodend solving crimes throughout England in the 1960s.