Crime Fiction


Things in Jars by Jess Kidd

5-Stars for an atmospheric and intriguing historical mystery.
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Things in Jars is the third novel by British author, Jess Kidd, but it’s the first of her books to be classified as ‘Historical Mystery’. I would describe it as a crime novel with an unusual twist because the protagonist is a female, Victorian, working class sleuth. Think Sherlock Holmes meets Gentleman Jack… but with none of the privileges.

The story is set in the poorest parts of London in 1863 as female investigator, Bridie Devine, is hired to find a kidnapped child. But this is no ordinary child. She is a secret child, who has been kept in seclusion and has now been snatched in unusual circumstances.

Woven through the narrative is the Victorian fascination with the supernatural, the gothic, and malformed creatures and curios of the natural world (Things in Jars). It is the acquisition of these creatures and the high prices they attain that drives the plot.

Kidd’s blends folklore, myth and ghost story with rich descriptions of the underbelly of London’s slum areas in such a way that it makes the characters and story almost believable. And she writes wonderful prose, which is often poetic, funny and fun. This book was a pleasure to read and I can award it nothing less than 5-Stars. I raced through it and can’t wait to read more by this author.

If you enjoy reading crime fiction why not come along to one of our meetings? They’re on the third Friday of every month, 2.30pm @ Oundle Library. It’s all very informal because we don’t have a set reading list. We do, however, enjoy a wide-ranging chat about the books we’ve read and enjoyed. Everyone welcome.