Five Star, Apr 2008, $25.95
In 1870 Ned Parker makes a living driving a hansom cab in London. However, Ned is a bit shook when he learns that a recent fare was found dead in the Thames; the victim was under police scrutiny as a prime suspect in a church robbery.
Needing help to crack both the theft and the murder cases, London Police Detective Rollo “Jacko” Jackson asks Ned to assist him just like his late father used to help him on investigations. Ned is reluctant to get involved with a copper’s inquiry until a driving pal Herbert Summers is arrested for the homicide based on flimsy evidence. Motivated to prove his associate is innocent, Ned turns to other drivers for assistance even as he follows clues that drive him around the city.
The cast especially the eccentric drivers that readers meet out of the 6000 working London make for an entertaining Victorian mystery. Ned is terrific as the focus of the gallows humorous story line. Although the overall plot seems implausible, no one except nit picking reviewers will care as HANGMAN’S CORNER is a fun historical that brings 1870 London to life (and death) through zany characterizations.