There are readers who buy their crime fiction on the strength of a reliable author's name, banking on a known commodity. And there are those who pick up novels after encountering reviews like the one you’re reading now. But writers really value the third method by which their work slowly and surely achieves popularity: word of mouth. We’re all persuaded by the enthusiasm of a trusted friend – and LM Jackson must be relishing the fact that many of us are responding to the  buzz surrounding his Victorian-set mysteries. London Dust and The Last Pleasure Garden signalled that here we had another writer who could evoke the colour and danger of Victorian London with a master's touch – there were those who even breathed the sacred name of Conan Doyle in comparison. Moving with Jackson’s mystified characters through the swirling fogs of our pre-electric capital city is an exhilarating experience -- and it’s a trick he brings off again with total assurance in A Most Dangerous Woman. Leather Lane is the location of Sarah Tanner's dining and coffee rooms – and her clients and fellow traders are intrigued by this enigmatic woman, who clearly harbours some secrets from the past. As those who have read Jackson before will know, security for his protagonists is an illusion. When a friend of Sarah’s is savagely killed, and she is the only one to witness the murder, for reasons of her own she cannot inform the police. So she enlists a motley group to aid her in cracking the sinister mystery – all the time stalked by a master criminal with a finger in many pies. If this brilliant miscreant owes a little to Holmes’ nemesis Moriarty, who cares? Jackson is very much his own man in this phantasmagoric tour through the squalor and splendour of the greatest city in the Empire – and the resourceful Sarah is a wonderfully multi-faceted heroine, risking all in a highly dangerous gamble.

by Barry Forshaw

Daily Express, 30th March 2007


Order from