An avid reader, Stephen's knowledge of Crime Fiction is fairly extensive, with The Golden Age is his greatest interest.
This is a dark tale of Victorian establishment cover ups, criminal gangs, horrific racketeering and of secret societies.
Into the middle of this world is thrown a young inexperienced legal clerk, William Lamb. He is aided by a young American woman, Savannah Shelton, on the run from U.S. law enforcement agencies and later [against all odds] by Harry Treadway a CID detective who is also running the risk of losing his job.
The story is set in London in 1881; a place and time where if you have money and privilege, life is very comfortable with all the advantages of the Victorian Age such as clean water, covered sewers, piped gas and even the latest convenience - electric lighting. But, if you are without money and of no standing within this society, then the city is a very unforgiving place.
William Lamb, in the absence of his employer, decides to respond to a client's urgent request for a meeting. When he meets the client, a Mr Ambrose Habborlain, it soon becomes clear that his decision was a mistake. Within a few hours of the meeting his employer, Mr Bridge, has shot himself before William's very own eyes; Mr Habborlain has disappeared and a gang of thugs are hunting Lamb down.
The only clues he has to what has happened and why, are a small wooden box and a baffling message. The box with a strange insignia contains only old yellowing documents in a script he cannot decipher. These items were given to him by Mr Bridge just before he committed suicide with the plea to run for his life. The message left for him by Mr Habborlain is a puzzle but it does contain the instruction to leave and not return. William has little chance to flee before he is flung into a nightmarish world.
This is an ingeniously plotted novel with a number of threads that are sewn together with fine dexterity. The writing is a free-flowing style that immediately appeals and keeps you entertained. Author Claire Evans plumbs the depths of despair and hopelessness to climb to the heights of joy and relief with William Lamb as he tries to stand-up against senior figures in the establishment and the criminal underworld. Though not a strong man in terms of physique or will; William Lamb must find reserves within himself, to escape from the nightmare of The Fourteen Letter.