Stoke Newington, 1863: Little Margaret Lovejoy is found brutally murdered in the outhouse at her family’s estate.
A few days later, a man is cut down in a similar manner on the doorstep of courtesan and professional detective Heloise Chancey’s prestigious address. At the same time, Heloise’s maid, Amah Li Leen, must confront events from her past that appear to have erupted into the present day.
Once again Heloise is caught up in a maelstrom of murder and deceit that threatens to reach into the very heart of her existence.
HERE ARE MY THOUGHTS AND REVIEW
This is the second book in this Victorian mystery series following under cover Detective Heloise Chancey. I wasn’t sure, after reading the first book in this series, how a second story would form. Well I will say now I am delighted with it. Heloise is far from the red light district in this story but facing just as great and more personal danger. The year is still 1863.
When a 3-year-old little girl is found brutally murdered, there is an outcry but when her father meets the same fate soon after and on Heloise’s own door step, not only was it a gruesome discovery but could also mean that the rest of this unfortunate man’s family could also be in danger from the killer. In this story Heloise finds herself taking on the role of Nanny to little Cyril in order to snoop round the family home both in the servant quarters and within the family itself. Her maid Amah Li Leen, who has a much closer personal link to Heloise than is publicly known, finds her own agenda in this story.
This story once again hi-lights the terrible way in which women and anyone of a different race were treated in the community and unfortunately, children were even further down the pecking list. These are real sort of Miss Marple type mysteries but with so much more gore and grit. Heloise has little maternal instinct for the boy in her charge and I am sure she will be the cause of many dentist visits for him. I do though love her determination in finding the killer, she is a woman born far before her time.
M.J. Tjai drip feeds more knowledge of Heloise in this story, which is heart wrenching in so many ways. It is shocking and really quite disturbing as the whole truth of it all comes out. I love how it is written, a real feel authentic adventure that isn’t so many jumps back from today. What a tremendous hard life it was. What I really am intrigued with is finding out about the different aspects of life in Victorian London. From the wealthy aristocrats to the poorest on the street, I am transfixed with it all. Loved this second book and hope number three follows shortly too.
HERE IS A LITTLE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
She has been shortlisted for the Josephine Ulrick Short Story Prize, Overland’s Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize, Fish Short Story Prize, and the Luke Bitmead Bursary and longlisted for CWA dagger awards. Her work has appeared in Review of Australian Fiction, Rex, Peril and Shibboleth and Other Stories.
She Be Damned is M.J. Tjia’s debut novel, and is the first instalment in her Heloise Chancey historical crime series.
M.J. lives in Brisbane, Australia, with her family, and as of January 2018 is now the Prose Editor of Peril Magazine.
BUY LINK FOR THE FIRST BOOK IN THE SERIES