Monday, August 13, 2012

Review: THE EXPERIENCES OF LOVEDAY BROOKE by Catherine Louisa Pirkis

book cover
Original Publication Date: 1893

Genre: mystery

Topics: female detective


Loveday Brooke is a woman in her thirties who fell on hard times (no details given as to how or why). Instead of letting it get her down, though, she rejected the society she was born into and got a job as a private detective in the firm of Ebenezer Dyer. Thus follows some short mysteries only Loveday Brooke could solve.

I first heard about CL Pirkis at Cynical Optimism. I liked the idea of a female detective and immediately downloaded several of Loveday Brooke short stories, including "A Black Bag Left On a Doorstep," "The Murder at Troyte's Hill," and "The Redhill Sisterhood."

"The Redhill Sisterhood" was probably the best story in the collection; in it, Loveday is hired by landlord to investigate his tenants, a group of nuns he believes is actually an organized gang of thieves. Twisty! Plus, there's a lot of discussion about this newfangled invention, "electricity," and how it's great at preventing robberies. If only more people used electricity, the world would practically be crime-free! Then Loveday figures out she's been double-crossed and sends secret messages to the police.

Even with "The Redhill Sisterhood," though, the stories were just okay. Loveday IS very smart, and the mysteries are difficult to figure out, but also kind of one-note. The main reason for this, I think, is because there's very little in the way of character development. We know Loveday is smart because she figures things out, and that she squints when she's thinking, but beyond that she doesn't have much personality. And what makes her a good detective? It's because "in cases of mere suspicion, women detectives are more satisfactory than men, for they are less likely to attract attention." Okay? That doesn't tell me anything about why Loveday settled on detecting as a choice of careers.

The Experiences of Loveday Brooke probably (hopefully) isn't the best collection of female detective stories out there. I would only recommend it if you're way into classic mysteries or female detectives.

Read The Experiences of Loveday Brooke at UPenn library