A wonderful review from Jennifer Wells for Anita Davison's novel, which is part of her Flora Maguire series.
Flora Maguire's life is perfect – a beautiful home in Belgravia teeming with servants, a loving husband, and new baby Arthur to enjoy. But when she is invited to tour St Philomena's Children's Hospital in deprived Southwark, she gets a harsh insight into the darker side of Edwardian London.
Shocked by the conditions people are living in, she soon uncovers a scandal with a dark heart – children are going missing from the hospital, apparently sold by their own families, and their fate is too awful to imagine. With the police seemingly unable or unwilling to investigate, Flora teams up with the matron of the hospital, Alice Finch, to try to get to the bottom of it.
Soon Flora is immersed in the seedy, dangerous underbelly of criminal London, and time is running out to save the children. Will they get to them in time, or was their fate decided the day they were born poor...
Flora’s life seems perfect. She has a loving husband, beautiful baby and servants to help run her opulent home, but when she receives an invitation to a charitable tour of a children’s hospital, she is soon reminded that life for most Edwardian Londoners can be much harder. When a student nurse is murdered at the hospital, Flora unearths a plot concerning the abduction of patients. Flora’s perfect life is contrasted with some brilliant descriptions of the deprived areas of the city. There are hooks on almost every page that draw the reader deeper and deeper until they are fully immersed in the mystery. The final chapters are action-packed. I had read the first book in this series and regret not returning to them until now (book 4). The first book briefly introduced Flora’s childhood, specifically the disappearance of her mother - something which had me intrigued. Luckily the author skilfully weaves the mysteries of Flora’s past throughout the series. Both books that I read work well in isolation – but readers should be aware of tantalising flashbacks and cliff-hangers that will make them want to read all of the Flora Maguire series.
Reviewer: Jennifer Wells