The author blog of C. J. Ivory

Tinkerer with words. Dresser-Upper. Adorer of Steampunk and VictoriaNoir fiction. Occasional Lawgineer.

The Novels of Charlotte Jane Ivory

Unseemly Conduct: an Isabel Crawford mystery

When the mutilated corpse of heiress Georgia Fenwick is found floating in the Thames, the Honourable Isabel Crawford has no intention of becoming involved. Isabel has enough problems of her own – it isn’t easy for a Viscount’s daughter to adapt to life as an under-paid governess. But a regrettable act of kleptomania has put Isabel into a delicate position: either help the strange Inspector Victor Dennehy to find Georgia’s killer, or be exposed as a thief.

Armed with her acerbic wit, questionable charm, and a sensible brolly, Isabel enters the seamy life of the nouveau riche. Middle-class London, she soon discovers, has a shadowy past, a penchant for vice, and a bottom drawer full of ether bottles. And, as if she didn’t have enough to keep her gloved hands full, Inspector Dennehy is proving to be a man who knows how to misbehave. It seems that he is “mad, bad, and dangerous to know” – but perhaps that’s just how Isabel likes him...

Meanwhile, there are more domestic issues to manage: her employer is either going mad or to France (whichever is closer), and the handsome young artist Shaw, whose talent doesn’t quite match his reputation, will keep insisting she take off her chemise – it’s enough to make a governess reach for the smelling salts.

But far more worrying is the proof that no good deed goes unpunished: when the last piece of evidence falls into place, it seems that Isabel herself will hang for Georgia Fenwick’s murder.

Unspeakable Acts: an Isabel Crawford mystery

Keeping a secret in Victorian London can be difficult. But, as the Honourable Isabel Crawford is about to find out, giving one away can be murder.

Another London Season has passed by, and one might expect people to start dying of boredom; but a young surgeon drowning in his pea soup is positively irregular. The police are insistent that Thomas Aveling died of an allergic reaction, but one person is certain foul play was involved – Aveling’s secret fiancée. She happens to be the sister of Miss Eudora Saggers, Isabel’s friend and quite possibly the only agreeable person in London.

When Aveling’s cousin, another surgeon, is killed, it seems the sisters may have a point. As little as Isabel likes it, she agrees to call in a favour from her old flame, Chief Inspector Victor Dennehy. But Dennehy is reluctant to cooperate: does he believe the coroner’s version of events – or has he been distracted by the dazzling Lydia Fyfe, a sharp-tongued beauty who seems to show up wherever there’s a warm corpse? 

As Isabel delves into the goings-on at the College of Surgeons, she becomes increasingly certain that something malevolent is afoot. But the College is hand-in-glove with the future Lord Mayor of London, an enemy that Isabel cannot afford to make. And how is it all connected to the Theatre des Beaux-Artes, a second-rate playhouse in the unfashionable part of London? And on the subject of performances, what secret is the deceitful Lydia Fyfe struggling so hard to hide from Dennehy and the rest of the world? 

This autumn, someone is serving up death in London: Isabel is about to learn that she really must watch who’s seasoning her supper.