Crooked In His Ways
June 18, 2021

Book Review

Crooked In His Ways

reviewed by Pam Guynn

Crooked in His Ways by S.M. Goodwin brings plenty of atmosphere to the second book in the Lightner and Law historical mystery / police procedural series. The main characters are Detective Inspector Jasper Lightner, who is the second son of a duke, and Hieronymus (Hy) Law, a New York detective.

Except for the prologue, this novel takes place in New York City in 1857. New York is very unsettled as Jasper continues his year-long assignment to train police detectives in modern (for the times) criminal investigative techniques.  Instead, there is conflict everywhere and many that do not want him there. When Albert Beauchamp appears in multiple pieces more than a year after his disappearance, Jasper and Hy get the case.

Jasper are Hy are likeable but flawed protagonists. They come from very different backgrounds, but both have faced challenges. Whether it is intelligence, wit, or brawn, their skills meshed well and the characters came alive for me. Their friendship grew significantly in this book and we got to see some additional depth in both their working relationship and their interactions with secondary characters. Jasper’s household staff adds another dimension to the relationships. Humor is also weaved into the story making it even more delightful to read. It all builds up to a fantastic ending.

The author does a great job of showing a dark and gritty New York City in turmoil.  The details appear to be well-researched. What follows is a complex plot with a lot of characters. The plot is suspenseful, fresh, and entertaining. The writing style and story line pulled me in quickly, but the characters and situations that developed kept me reading. As they dig into Albert’s background, they discover that many people had reasons to kill him. But who did it? Where will the trail lead? Is it even possible to discover the killer with only primitive forensic capabilities? Themes include murder, relationships and arranged marriages, infidelity, poverty, gangs, racism, drugs, corruption, assaults, false imprisonment, PTSD and much more.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, which was suspenseful, engaging, and atmospheric. It is not your typical historical mystery. Pay close attention to the details, as they matter. Which of the secondary characters will show up in future books in the series? This is the second book that I have read by this author.  I can’t wait to find out what is next for Jasper and Hy. I recommend this to those that like dark and gritty historical mysteries and historical police procedurals.

Crooked Lane Books and S. M. Goodwin provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently expected to be September 7, 2021.

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