Saturday 2 March 2024

The Highgate Cemetery Murder (A Tate and Bell Mystery Book 1) by Irina Shapiro


His heart pounding, the man scribbles the words in his notebook as fast as he can: “Woman dead in Highgate. Man in caped coat. Milky way and red streaks. I’m being followed.”

Hours later, the man’s cold body lies in the city mortuary, alongside the woman he couldn’t save. And his sister, unconventional nurse Gemma Tate, tracks down troubled police inspector Sebastian Bell to unravel the truth.

Sebastian has enough pressure to solve the murder of an aristocratic heiress without Gemma meddling in his case. But the cryptic sentences she brings him from her brother’s notebook could be a crucial lead. If only they knew what “milky way” meant. But as the trail of clues takes them away from the gilded drawing rooms of the nobility and into the dangerous slums of London, how far will their partnership be tested on the quest for justice, and will they both emerge unscathed?

Fans of Andrea Penrose, Deanna Raybourn and Carole Lawrence will be hooked on this intricate, compelling mystery set in Victorian London.


This is a gripping novel. It has a dark and atmospheric tone, with truly horrifying and despicable villains.

The story begins with a shocking early double murder in Victorian London which introduces us to Gemma Tate, a young woman who served as a nurse in the Crimean War, and Inspector Sebastian Bell, a policeman.

As more details emerge about the murdered young woman and the suffering she endured before she died it is clear that the police are hunting seriously evil and depraved individuals.

Both Sebastian and Gemma have endured personal losses, tragedy and grief. Gemma was touched by her experiences as a wartime nurse and Sebastian lost his wife and unborn child in tragic circumstances causing him to turn to opium to numb his pain.

The chance to solve a very high-profile murder and help Gemma with solving the mystery of her brother's death becomes a timely distraction and the beginning of a new friendship.

This is a fast-paced story with twists I didn't see coming and has a satisfying conclusion where justice is meted out.

Gemma and Sebastian's friendship is subtle and low-key with hints of something more towards the end. I'm looking forward to seeing how their relationship develops in the next book which is set to be released in June 2024.

I read this book in a day as it was such a tense and twisty thriller I couldn't put it down.

Amazon UK purchase Link

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