If you are after some Victorian murder mysteries…
What is the Barker and Llewelyn series about?
Written by American author Will Thomas, this hard-boiled mystery series is about 19th-century British private detective Barker and his assistant, Thomas Llewelyn.
Set in the 1880s and often featuring historical events and people, the series follows Private Enquiry Agent Cyrus Barker and Llewelyn in London as they investigate dark and violent murder mysteries (they even go after Jack the Ripper) or work for Her Majesty’s government to avoid diplomatic crisis and.
How to read the Barker and Llewelyn Books in Order?
Every book in Will Thomas’ Barker and Llewelyn series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- Some Danger Involved – When a student bearing a striking resemblance to artists’ renderings of Jesus Christ is found murdered — by crucifixion — in London’s Jewish ghetto, private detective Barker must hire Llewelyn, a gutsy young man whose murky past includes recent stints at both an Oxford college and an Oxford prison, to be his assistant. As Llewelyn learns the ropes of his position, he is drawn deeper and deeper into Barker’s peculiar world of vigilante detective work.
- To Kingdom Come – When a bomb destroys the Special Irish Branch of Scotland Yard, all fingers point to the increasingly brazen factions of Irish dissidents seeking liberation from English rule. Volunteering their services to the British government, Barker and Llewelyn set out to infiltrate a secret cell of the Irish Republican Brotherhood known as the Invisibles.
- The Limehouse Text – Barker and Llewelyn discover a pawn ticket among the effects of Barker’s late assistant, leading them to London’s Chinese district, Limehouse. There they retrieve an innocent-looking book that proves to be a rare and secret text stolen from a Nanking monastery, containing lethal martial arts techniques forbidden to the West. With the political situation between the British Empire and Imperial China already unstable, the duo must not only track down a killer intent upon gaining the secret knowledge but also safeguard the text from a snarl of suspects with conflicting interests.
- The Hellfire Conspiracy – When Barker and Llewelyn are hired to find a girl from the upper classes who has gone missing in the East End, they assume her kidnapping is the work of white slavers. But when they discover five girls have been murdered in Bethnal Green, taunting letters begin to arrive in Craig’s Court from a killer calling himself Mr. Miacca. Barker fears that Miacca might be part of the Hellfire Club, a group of powerful, hedonistic aristocrats performing Satanic rituals. He must track the fiend to his hideout, while Llewelyn confronts the man who put him in prison.
- The Black Hand – When an Italian assassin’s body is found floating in a barrel in Victorian London’s East End, enquiry agent Cyrus Barker and his assistant Thomas Llewelyn are called in to investigate. Soon corpses begin to appear all over London, each accompanied by a Mafia Black Hand note. As Barker and Llewelyn dig deeper, they become entangled in the vendettas of rival Italian syndicates — and it is no longer clear who is a friend or foe.
- Fatal Enquiry – Some years ago, Cyrus Barker matched wits with Sebastian Nightwine, an aristocrat and sociopath, and in exposing his evil, sent Nightwine fleeing to hide from justice somewhere in the far corners of the earth. The last thing Barker ever expected was to encounter Nightwine again-but the British government, believing they need Nightwine’s help, has granted him immunity for his past crimes, and brought him back to London. Nightwine, however, has more on his mind than redemption-and as Barker and Llewellyn set out to uncover and thwart Nightwine’s real scheme, they find themselves in the gravest danger of their lives.
- Anatomy of Evil – One evening in 1888, Robert Anderson, the head of Scotland Yard’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID), appears at Barker’s office with an offer. A series of murders in the Whitechapel area of London are turning the city upside down, with tremendous pressure being brought to bear on Scotland Yard and the government itself. With various elements of society, high and low, bringing their own agenda to increasingly shocking murders, Barker and Llewellyn must find and hunt down the century’s most notorious killer.
- Hell Bay – At the request of Her Majesty’s government, private enquiry agent Cyrus Barker agrees to take on his least favorite kind of assignment―he’s to provide security for a secret conference with the French government. The conference is to take place on the private estate of Lord Hargrave on a remote island off the coast of Cornwall. The goal of the conference is the negotiation of a new treaty with France. But shortly after the parties land at the island, Lord Hargrave is killed by a sniper shot, and the French ambassador’s head of security is found stabbed to death.
- An Awkward Way to Die (short story) – Cyrus Barker, the most prominent and accomplished private enquiry agent in 19th century London, faces what might be the most dastardly crime of his career: his personal tobacconist has been murdered, his body found in his own humidor!
- Old Scores – In 1890, the first Japanese diplomatic delegation arrives in London to open an embassy. Cyrus Barker is enlisted to display his personal Japanese garden to the visiting dignitaries.Later that night, Ambassador Toda is shot and killed in his office and Cyrus Barker is discovered across the street. Arrested by the Special Branch for the crime, Barker is vigorously interrogated and finally released. With the London constabulary still convinced of his guilt, Barker is hired by the new Japanese ambassador to find the real murderer.
- Blood Is Blood – Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn are renowned private enquiry agents, successfully employed by the highest levels of Her Majesty’s government as well as private citizens. Their success has led to their acquiring a powerful group of enemies. At least one of those enemies is responsible for a bombing of their offices that puts Cyrus Barker into the hospital and endangers Thomas Llewelyn’s rapidly forthcoming nuptials. To add to the confusion, Barker’s long-lost brother Caleb turns up on the rubble of their doorstep not long after the not-quite-fatal bombing.
- Lethal Pursuit – Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn receive in the mail an unexplained key stamped with the letter Q. Barker, recognizing it for what it is, uses the key to unlock an anonymous door in the alleyway, which opens to an underground tunnel leading to Downing Street. The Prime Minister has a small task for Cyrus Barker. A Foreign Office agent stole a satchel in Eastern Europe, but was then himself murdered at Charing Cross.
- Dance with Death – In June of 1893, the future Nicholas II travels to London for a royal wedding, bringing with him his private security force and his ballerina mistress, Mathilde Kchessinska. Rumored to be the target of a professional assassin known only as La Sylphide, and the subject of conspiracies against his life by his own family who covets his future throne, Nicholas is protected by not only private security, but the professional forces of both England and Russia.
- Fierce Poison – London, 1893, Cyrus Barker has just about seen it all. But never before has a potential client dropped dead in his office. When Roland Fitzhugh, Member of Parliament arrives to consult Barker and Llewelyn, he falls to the floor, dead, upon entering. As they soon learn, he’s been poisoned with a cyanide-laced raspberry tart, and the adulterated tarts also take out an entire family in the East End. Labeled the Mad Pie Man by the press, Barker and Llewelyn are hired by former Prime Minister William Gladstone to find out who has targeted the House of Commons’s newest member.
- Heart of the Nile – London, 1893 – In 1893, a volunteer at the British Museum makes a startling discovery. When examining a mummy in the museum’s collection, he discovers there is a giant ruby in the shape of a heart buried in the chest of the mummy. Even more startling, the mummy might well be Cleopatra. The following morning, the volunteer is found floating in the Thames and the ruby has gone missing. Hired by the victim’s wife to learn the truth behind his death, Barker and Llewelyn find themselves in the crosshairs – now they must avoid a violent street gang, a ruthless collector, and the British Museum itself in order to find the killer and safeguard the gem.
- Death and Glory – Coming soon…
If you like Will Thomas’s Barker and Llewelyn, you may also want to check our guide to the Sebastian St. Cyr series by C.S. Harris or the Benjamin January series . Don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to discover more book series.