Lee Jackson continues the casebook of Scotland Yard's Inspector Decimus Webb with The Last Pleasure Garden (Heinemann, pounds 12.99). Once again Victorian London is faithfully recreated, as police hunt the sinister Cutter who stalks young female visitors to the Cremorne pleasure gardens, armed with a pair of scissors with which to cut off a lock of their hair. When murder occurs, Webb isn't convinced that the Cutter is responsible, and pursues other inquiries, which involve a respectable family and a fiery preacher whose mission is to close down the gardens. Webb hasn't fully developed as a personality, but he and his assistant, Sergeant Bartleby, make a good pairing and Jackson's series is the best of current Victorian mysteries.

Susanna Yager, Sunday Telegraph, 23rd April, 2006

Victorian London is brought vividly to life from the very beginning of this fast-paced historical detective story, as Inspector Webb and his sidekick Bartleby set out on a pleasure-boat from Hungerford Bridge to Chelsea. The pleasure-boat motif runs through the novel and takes it far away from the clichés of fog-ridden nineteenth-century London and into the carnivalesque world of the Pleasure Garden.
    Webb’s mission is to track down ‘The Cutter’ – a serial attacker terrorising London’s (not-so) polite society, who mingle daringly with its more seedy elements in the vaudeville hubbub of Cremorne pleasure gardens in Chelsea. The gardens generate excitement and controversy in equal measure, offending Victorian sensibilities to the point of violence. It is up to Webb to cut through the veil of genteel propriety to the facts, and his knowing cynicism allows Jackson to examine class hypocrisy and the sundry unpalatable truths lurking beneath the glossy surface.
    Jackson wrings plenty of humour from Webb’s observations, and tempers the engrossing historical detail with wry
commentary on the absurdities of the Victorian class system and the period’s many eccentric and peculiar characters.

Time Out, May 10-17, 2006

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