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Fatal Enquiry: A Barker & Llewelyn Novel…

Fatal Enquiry: A Barker & Llewelyn Novel (Barker and Llewelyn Book 6) (edition 2014)

by Will Thomas (Author)

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12616143,437 (4.01)23
Title:Fatal Enquiry: A Barker & Llewelyn Novel (Barker and Llewelyn Book 6)
Authors:Will Thomas (Author)
Info:Minotaur Books (2014), 302 pages
Collections:Your library, Currently reading

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Fatal Enquiry by Will Thomas



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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
This is a very good mystery. Twists and turns through out the entire story. ( )
  Philip100 | Sep 12, 2016 |
A Fatal Enquiry, Will Thomas' first entry into the Barker and Llewelyn series after a multi-year hiatus, is at once a relief and a disappointment.

First, the good: Llewleyn returns in fine form, his narrative voice as clear as ever and, though a bit wizened from several years of working with Barker, still shows all the affability, cockiness and impetuousness of his 21 years.

Thomas' Victorian London is also still intact, redolent with historical places that range from cafes attached to Masonic lodges to Westminster Abbey to shabby Thames waterfronts.

The plot of this installment, during which Barker and Llewelyn are on the run from various parties after Barker is framed for murder by his Moriarty-esque nemises, is well-thought out and interesting enough to keep on turning pages.


There was something desperate about this installment, and Thomas kept intruding on the story with unnecessary recaps of action of which there was a bit much. This felt like an advertisement for the previous installments and a mad grab for the American action mystery set. Which is fine, after all, martial arts is very much a part of who Barker is, for very legitimate reasons. And it makes sense he would train Llewelyn and that training would be necessary in their roles as enquiry agents. But it just never felt to tedious in the previous books.

Thomas has also developed an exasperating habit of unnecessarily recapping what happened in the last few pages. If I just read about how three Scotland Yard officers were thwarted from capturing the pair while they're running on a bridge, don't begin the next chapter with a summary. It all felt a bit like a not-so-subtle humblebrag, as though Thomas were playing at bashfully saying, “Look at what in immensely entertaining scene I just wrote! Aren't you glad you're reading this?”

Well, I was. Until the fourth time that happened.

Adding to the narrative disruption, beloved characters and places from previous novels were gratuitously shoved into this story. It's as though Thomas felt if he didn't have Llewelyn go to the Barbados for a mocha and smoke the pipe with his name above it, all while philosophizing with Israel Zangwill, his fan base would disappear (we won't). Likewise, Barker's ward and partner were both shoehorned in as well and, though the latter served well to shed some light on Barker's mysterious past, (which was heartbreakingly predictable; hint: a woman fueled the animosity between Barker and his nemesis; I really expected more from Thomas).

On one hand, I get it. Readers like me return to mystery character series precisely because of the characters we come to know and love. I look forward to seeing Billy in every Maisie Dobbs mystery and of course enjoy it when Ian Rutledge's sister makes an appearance.

But here, Dummolard and Israel and even Mac to some degree just got in the way of, you know, the actual plot.

And, while Barker's nemesis Nightwine was great when he first appeared, in this he felt like a rather lazy Moriarty rip-off, and the femme fatal wasn't much more compelling, either. Of course she's a stunning blonde, and of course she's kinda-sorta-not-really a victim of circumstance. Yawn.

How I wish just once a femme fatal could be frumpy or have a poor sense of fashion or wear sensible shoes because walking around London to reconnoiter a target must be hell on one's feet.

In short, I wish Thomas would have just let the story he was trying to tell be the story. We'll come back to see Mac or Dummolard another day, we promise.

** You can see this review, and more mystery character series reviews, on my blog "The Body on the Floor" by going to http://goo.gl/LFlv9s *** ( )
  Shutzie27 | Nov 8, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Private enquiry agent Cyrus Barker and his assistant Thomas Llewellyn face a foe from Barker’s past. Sebastian Nightwine is a master criminal who has gained a pardon from the government as they believe he has information they need for National Security. Barker is sure that whatever Nightwine is selling, it is not because he has been reformed and is now concerned about protecting England. Barker is determined to learn the truth about Nightwine’s motive as well as the validity of the information he is offering officials. Yet, Nightwine has a plan for Barker that results in Barker becoming a fugitive and wanted by the police. Barker with the assistance of Llewellyn must learn the true criminal plot while staying one step of the police and attempting to clear their names.
I have enjoyed all of the books in this series and was thrilled to read the latest book in the series. This book provides a different view of Barker as he must use the experiences of his past to stay ahead of Nightwine. This includes contacts and costumes that Llewellyn has never seen or met. While Barker seems in his element (even though he is outside his normal roles in society), Llewellyn seems lost both by Barker and the situations they find themselves in.
Of the two, Llewellyn is the most personable even though at times, he is the one character with the worst understanding of what is happening. Llewellyn is used to being considered one of the good guys and struggles as he and Barker deal with the “criminal element.” Even though Llewellyn knows that he does not always have the best grasp of events, his innocence makes him more appealing.
I cannot wait until the next book is released. ( )
  bookworminc | Apr 15, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I've only recently become a fan of historical crime fiction so I don't have much to compare Fatal Enquiry to but there's really only one other body of work to which it needs be compared: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. Anyone who's even remotely familiar with Doyle's eccentric detective and his trusty companion, Dr. John Watson, will see an immediate resemblance in Will Thomas's Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewellyn. Even the antagonist in this novel, Sebastian Nightwine, is little more than a thinly veiled clone of Holmes' nemesis, James Moriarty. It wouldn't be a stretch to think the Barker and Llewelyn series was originally conceived as a continuation of the Holmes adventures.

That said, the plot of Fatal Enquiry is original, elaborate, and compelling which makes it easy to forgive the copycat characters. The characters' backstories are also incredibly detailed giving the novel uncommon depth that sets it apart from others in the genre. It's especially easy to get lost in Nightwine's history. While it was a fairly quick read, its depth and detail lend it epic proportions. In hindsight it's hard to believe so much story could fit into a book of its size.

Overall, Fatal Enquiry is a solid and thoroughly enjoyable historical crime novel. I'm not sure I'd recommend it for all readers but fans of Sherlock Holmes should definitely check it out. ( )
  InvisiblerMan | Jan 27, 2015 |
This is the long awaited follow up to 2008's "The Black Hand" featuring enquiry agent Cyrus Barker & his trusty sidekick Thomas Llewelyn. All the books are set in victorian London, a bustling progressive city where the class system is being slowly eroded by the rise of industry & a growing presence of labour unions.
Like the others, this story is told by Thomas who has been with Barker for about two years now. He's a Welshman whose past is riddled with poverty & tragedy, making him appreciate the clean sheets & regular food that come with his job.
As the books progressed, Thomas (and the reader) slowly learned more about his mysterious boss' colourful background. Barker ended up in London after many years in the Far East & some friends from that time have followed him here like Ho, the scary restauranteur & Etienne, his temperamental chef. One figure he never wanted to see again is the Honourable (hah!) Sebastian Nightwine.
In a previous book, we met Nightwine, a sociopathic criminal unencumbered by morals. Barker worked tirelessly to gather evidence for Scotland Yard but ultimately, the class system won out & Nightwine's social status rendered him untouchable. He sold off his illegal business to Seamus O'Muircheartaigh, an intimidating Irish rebel & hightailed it to parts unknown.
This book begins as Insp. Terrence Poole comes by with the bad news. Nightwine is back.....and still untouchable. He's arriving by steamship armed with diplomatic immunity & Poole's job is to protect him from Barker.
Although stumped by Nightwine's return, Barker is thrilled to have another shot at him. Before he can make plans, he & Thomas receive more shocking news. Someone delivered a package containing ricin to Seamus' office, killing several people & leaving Seamus at death's door. Then they hear Lord Clayton has been murdered & Scotland Yard names Barker as the killer. Is someone taking out all of Nightwine's enemies?
In the blink of an eye, Barker & Thomas are on the run, cut off from friends & associates. No place is safe as a huge manhunt ensues, incited by the offer of a healthy reward for their capture.
And we're off. We follow Barker & Thomas as they hide out in seedy areas of the city, constantly on the move while trying to uncover the plot to ruin Barker. Returning characters include Mac (Barker's majordomo), Andrew McClain (boxer/missionary), Vic (street urchin/informant) & of course Harm, the pekingese dog from hell. Along the way, Thomas ends up in jail (again!), Barker is challenged to a duel & both will have to deal with a mysterious & beautiful young woman adept in the art of poisoning. But not all of the main characters will survive as the body count rises.
As usual, we're not privy to all of Barker's machinations so we get to be just as surprised as Thomas as details are revealed & the case is resolved. On the last page is a nice little twist that may hint at what's to come in the next instalment.
The author has done a great job of slowly revealing Barker's past & here, we learn how he met Nightwine 25 years ago & why he hates him (Man, did I want to see this guy get what he deserved). The characters are well developed & feel like real people. If you've read previous books, it's like catching up with old friends & you'll mourn the loss of one of the regulars.
The city itself becomes a character with gritty descriptions of the poor areas as well as its' fabulous landmarks. The dialogue is true to the time & infused with dry wit, particularly the conversations between Barker & Thomas. You don't have to be a faithful reader to enjoy this as a victorian murder mystery but as with any series, it's a richer experience if you know the histories of relationships & events.
Many have compared Barker & Thomas to Holmes & Watson & yes, they also solve mysteries in victorian London. As with MRC Kasasian's books & numerous steampunk series, the era provides a vibrant setting. But it's the characters that keep you coming back....or not. I like these two & have enjoyed watching their relationship evolve. Hope I don't have to wait another 6 years for the next one. ( )
  RowingRabbit | Sep 14, 2014 |
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"Brimming with wit, atmosphere, and unforgettable characters, FATAL ENQUIRY reintroduces private enquiry agent Cyrus Barker and his assistant, Thomas Llewellyn, and their unforgettable world of Victorian London. Some years ago, Cyrus Barker matched wits with Sebastian Nightwine, an aristocrat and sociopath, and in exposing his evil, sent Nightwine fleeing to hide from justice somewhere in the far corners of the earth. The last thing Barker ever expected was to encounter Nightwine again--but the British government, believing they need Nightwine's help, has granted him immunity for his past crimes, and brought him back to London. Nightwine, however, has more on his mind than redemption--and as Barker and Llewellyn set out to uncover and thwart Nightwine's real scheme, they find themselves in the gravest danger of their lives"--… (more)

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