Publisher: Thistle Publishing
Edmund Blackstone, Bow Street Runner, of doubtful parentage and background, the best if far from the most conformist in the force, secretly applauds the robbers he hunts. He is tall, well-built, with a strongly featured face and, despite his elegant and expensive attire, moves with ease among the thieves and cut-throats in the taverns and soup shops, the cockfighting pits and dirty alleys of London. But if Blackstone has a weakness for professional esteem and flattery, for a woman’s touch and for good wine, he is also one of the best shots in London, an expert in almost all areas of crime, a ruthless man with a reputation for courage and persistence, and – first and last – a Bow Street Runner.
In this, the first of the series, Sir Richard Birnie, the Bow Street magistrate, has appointed Blackstone to guard the heir to the throne, the young Princess Alexandrina Victoria. Among the Runners this is considered an honour but Blackstone feels that it is all a waste of time, even a punishment. Then Blackstone himself is attacked outside his lodgings – and there’s something about his assailant that seems oddly familiar…
Richard Falkirk was the pen name of bestselling novelist Derek Lambert, who was also foreign correspondent for the Daily Express. As Richard Falkirk, he wrote this bestselling series of six historical mysteries about Bow Street Runner Edmund Blackstone set in 1820s London.
Review: Blackstone is a re-issue of a novel first published in 1972. It appears there are five in the series, so I’m very excited to have read this one. I loved this story, a regency mystery featuring Blackstone, one of the best of the Bow Street Runners. The story is set at a time when the Metropolitan Police are struggling to be born, competing with the Runners. Falkirk writes with sophisticated style and wit without a stumble, capturing the tone of the time, his descriptions lavish but not overextended. Halfway through the book, I realized (with great glee) that Blackstone is a Regency Sam Spade; hot gin and hot women are his sustenance when not chasing down the bad guys with a vengeance and swagger. Twisting arms to get cooperation, seduction for information, always well armed and ready to fight his way out of a fix.