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by Rosemary Stevens
Berkley Prime Crime, June 2003
241 pages
ISBN: 042519051X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

George Bryan Brummell, known as "Beau", was an influential man in upper-class British society in the first part of the nineteenth century. He was known for his style and charm; in fact, he became an arbiter of style.

Rosemary Stevens has taken this fascinating historical personage and created a series of mysteries with Brummell as the protaganist. In Murder in the Pleasure Gardens, Brummell attempts to help young Lieutenant Nevill, who accuses Theobald Jacombe, one of the most respected men in London, of cheating at cards. Nevill and Jacombe set a date for a duel, but the night before the duel Jacombe is murdered at the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. Nevill is the main suspect.

As the Beau investigates he finds more and more to the disrepute of Jacombe, including improper relations with his dear friend, Lydia Lavender, when she was a teenager. Several suspects appear, if only Brummell could get the police to pay attention.

Rosemary Stevens is a fine researcher and a fine writer. She depicts well the society in which Beau Brummell took part, although it strikes a wrong note that Brummell would have taken Lydia Lavender to an upper-class event in which she was shunned for being middle class. Stevens is good at the small details that make a book enjoyable. Particularly fun is the depiction of Brummell's cat, Chakkri, and his war with the valet who lives in horror of Brummell's going out in society with a cat hair on his clothes. Murder in the Pleasure Gardens is a good entry in a good series.

Reviewed by Mary A. Axford, May 2003

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