Review: The Highgate Cemetery Murder

Review: The Highgate Cemetery Murder

Title: The Highgate Cemetery Murder
Series: Tate and Bell Mystery #1
Author: Irina Shapiro
Publish Date: I received this novel as an ARC from NetGalley.  The initial publication of this book will be available on February 29, 2024

The Highgate Cemetery Murder by Irina Shapiro is a mystery novel set in England in the 1850’s. 

When considering this novel, you may wish to note that this book contains graphic violence and rape. I did not see a content warning when I requested this book on NetGalley, but this is something you may wish to consider before diving into this mystery.  

A young woman hung on a marble cross like a Christian martyr, her wrists bound to the crossbar, her head tilted to the side.  She wore nothing but a flowing chemise, the fabric whipping around her bare legs and hanging off her arms like broken wings.  What appeared to be a human heart, held in place by a thin chain or a string, was suspended from the woman’s neck, still oozing blood.

From the Publisher:

His heart pounding, the man scribbles the words in his notebook as fast as he can: “Woman dead in Highgate. Man in caped coat. Milky way and red streaks. I’m being followed.”

Hours later, the man’s cold body lies in the city mortuary, alongside the woman he couldn’t save. And his sister, unconventional nurse Gemma Tate, tracks down troubled police inspector Sebastian Bell to unravel the truth.

Sebastian has enough pressure to solve the murder of an aristocratic heiress without Gemma meddling in his case. But the cryptic sentences she brings him from her brother’s notebook could be a crucial lead. If only they knew what “milky way” meant. But as the trail of clues takes them away from the gilded drawing rooms of the nobility and into the dangerous slums of London, how far will their partnership be tested on the quest for justice, and will they both emerge unscathed?

Fans of Andrea Penrose, Deanna Raybourn and Carole Lawrence will be hooked on this intricate, compelling mystery set in Victorian London.

This book has:

✔ Downtown Abbey meets CSI vibes
✔ Sherlock and Watson style mystery solving
✔ Nineteenth Century British History
✔ Graphic violence
✔ More installments to look forward to if you enjoy this one

Final Impression

Overall, I can see the appeal of The Highgate Cemetery Murder.  The writing was compelling, and I found the main characters, Gemma Tate and Detective Sebastian Bell, to be a likable and believable pair.  I did find the ending to be quite rushed, as the guilty parties went from protesting their innocence to explaining the entire crime in two sentences or less.  I don’t prefer to read depictions of graphic violence or rape.  If a content warning had been included in the description of this ARC, I likely wouldn’t have requested it.  If you’re not bothered by this kind of content and enjoy a Sherlock Holmes-esque murder mystery, then you’ll likely enjoy this first installment in the Tate and Bell Mysteries. 

Star Rating

⭐ ⭐ ⭐  This book wasn’t for me, but I can see the appeal.  Check it out if you like British History and Murder Mysteries, and aren’t bothered by graphic depictions of violence against women.

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