Title: The Ornamental Hermit (DS Billings Victorian Mysteries: Book Two)
Author: Olivier Bosman
Publisher: Rocket Man Press
Length: 292 Pages
Category: Historical, Mystery/Suspense
At a Glance: I thought the 1890s was captured really well in this novel, especially Scotland Yard and the various areas of England.
Reviewed By: Maryann
Blurb: The year is 1890. Detective Sergeant John Billings is a Quaker. He sees God in everyone and takes other people’s suffering to heart. He is an honest and hard working man who has risen swiftly through the ranks to become one of Scotland Yard’s youngest detectives. But in his private life he struggles with the demons of loneliness, morphine addiction and homosexuality.
While Scotland Yard is in the midst of foiling a Russian counterfeiting operation, Billings is asked to investigate the cold blooded murder of Lord Palmer. The main suspect is a rough looking vagrant called Brendan Lochrane who was employed by Lord Palmer to live as an ‘ornamental hermit’ in a grotto in his estate. When Billings visits Lochrane in his holding cell, he is moved by the look in the man’s eyes. This is not the ‘Wild Man’ the press have made him out to be. Lochrane is mute, docile and unresponsive. A gut feeling leads Billings to suspect that the man is being framed. But who is framing him? And why?
Billings travels the length and breadth of Britain investigating the case. As he pieces together the fragments of Lochrane’s extraordinary life, he slowly finds himself becoming embroiled in a web of corruption and deceit which goes right to the heart of Scotland Yard.
Review: Detective Sergeant John Billings is the youngest member of Scotland Yard. He has some issues that make other members of the force see him as aloof and arrogant. He has a problem being social, hasn’t fully accepted his sexuality, and has an addiction to morphine. John doesn’t think of himself as a good detective. He stays late at the office to read novels, seeking comfort because he hates going back to the shoddy room where he lives.
John finds himself involved in two mysterious cases—the arrest of Brendan Lochrane, the Wildman of Southern Courtney, whose accused of murdering Lord Palmer of Sutton House; and to help solve the disappearance of Sebastian Forrester. John’s boss feels he should move on to other cases; after all, they have Brendan Lochrane, the guilty party in Lord Palmer’s case. There are too many unanswered questions for John, though, and he finds himself caught up in more than just murder. John also becomes intrigued with Sebastian Forrester’s disappearance, and his diary, and it makes an unbelievable connection.
I thought the 1890s was captured really well in this novel, especially Scotland Yard and the various areas of England. The story is an insightful journey of two men with some self-destructive urges, and them trying to find the right paths to follow. I can see this series growing along with the John Billings’ character. There’s so much he still has to overcome with his sexuality, his addiction, and not being a perfect detective. By no means is John a Sherlock Holmes; he makes mistakes and gets himself into dangerous situations. The mysteries are also surrounded with corruption, deceit and the mistreatment of a person for monetary gain.
John Billings is first introduced in Death Takes a Lover, the entertaining first book in the DS Billings Mysteries series. Both of these novels were very good and well plotted. I hope Olivier Bosman will continue to bring more of John Billings to life.
You can buy The Ornamental Hermit here: