The Demoniacs by John Dickson Carr

The Demoniacs

I bought this book quite recently at a charity shop I think and I was quite disappointed when I realised that this is one of Dickson Carr‘s historical whodunnits, set in London in 1757. The 1930s/40s and 50s are really my favourite crime settings, it’s all those steam trains and Austin Healys that I love. It was first published in 1962.

But I thoroughly enjoyed The Demoniacs which is a great mixture of murder and romance. Jeffrey Wynne is a sort of under cover Bow Street Runner, he has already saved Peg Ralston, a beautiful young heiress from a fate worse than death in a so called high class French brothel. On getting Peg back to London Jeffrey discovers that she is in even worse danger there, can he come to her rescue again?

Dickson Carr uses real historical figures such as Laurence Sterne the author of Tristram Shandy, and John Fielding, the famous ‘blind beak’ who set up the Bow Street Runners.

The whole atmosphere feels right, Dickson Carr must have done a lot of reaearch about the period, the only thing which grated slightly was one minor character at the beginning who kept saying things like ‘split my bottom’ – it reminded me of the silly ass character in Blackadder played by Hugh Laurie.