Buy this book?
A REGIMENTAL MURDER
By Ashley Gardner
Prime Crime, May, 2004 ($5.99)
Reviewed by Dawn Crawford
This is the author's second book of the Regency period, starring Captain Lacey. This book stands alone; one does not have to have read the author's first book to follow the story.
Late one evening Captain Lacey spots a woman of wealth walking the streets of London alone. A man accosts her and Lacey saves her and takes her to safety. She asks Lacey to help her clear the name of her dead husband, whom she believes was wrongfully accused of murder. She gives Lacey the names of four men she deems responsible. Of course Lacey takes the case up with the assistance of his wealthy friend Mr. Grenville. As Lacey delves further into the background of these four men he finds himself being drawn into a sinister world of corruption.
The structure of this story is good, but not the main character. As the author further reveals aspects of Captain Lacey's life she has only deepened the abyss of plausibility. I find it hard to believe that a man with little means would be revered by his fellow man, while women throw themselves at him. This really is delving into the realms of fantasy!
This is the second book in the series. We have reviews of two other books in this series. Please click on the title(s) to read those reviews now. THE HANOVER SQUARE AFFAIR. THE GLASS HOUSE. The fourth book in the series, THE SUDBURY SCHOOL MURDERS is scheduled for release June 7, 2005.
The Regency is a completely different era from the Victorian, and readers are often confused. The Napoleonic Wars saw some odd things that never happened again (all the commission regulations and so forth came after it, from problems that happened during that time).
Captain Lacey did not purchase his commission. He volunteered, waiting for a commission to come open. When he did, the influence of his commander helped him into the position. He never purchased the commission; therefore,†it was not his to sell.
His situation was common. During the Napoleonic wars, a large percentage of officers got their commissions in this way. An officer who took half-pay was not completely out of the army--if they needed officers, they could call him back, although this happened infrequently. Half-pay officers received a pay packet every quarter (half of their usual pay, which wasn't very much to begin with). Many officers were independently wealthy; Captain Lacey was not.
Also, Captain Lacey is a gentleman, meaning he is a landed gentleman's son whose family's income came from the land and tenant farmers. Therefore, even if Lacey was poor, he would have been invited to social functions and respected in society, as long as he could find something to wear. During this time, social standing was NOT based on money; it was based on who your family was, and Lacey's family was quite blue-blooded.
I researched social mores and army pay/commissions before writing this series. Captain Lacey is certainly plausible and even typical.
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