Goodnight Sweet Prince – David Dickinson

I’m a sucker for a good historical detective story[1], so when I saw this on one of Waterstone’s “3 for 2” tables, I snapped it up. It turns out to be a reissue of the first in a series of six (so far) novels about Lord Francis Powercourt, an Irish aristocrat with friends in high places and a flair for detection. This one was first published in 2002, and has now been reissued in paperback, along with its sequels, which I’ll be reading soon, or as soon as I get round to them, anyway.

The story is one of those devious ones that blends real people and events with carefully crafted fiction. The story revolves around the death of Prince Eddy in 1982. Prince Albert Victor, The Duke of Clarence and Avondale, eldest son of the Prince of Wales[2] is dead. History records that he died of pneumonia. Theorists have linked him with Jack the Ripper. And in this story, it appears that “pneumonia” was a cover story released to conceal the truth: the Prince was brutally murdered in his bed.

Powerscourt, having previously been involved in an investigation into attempted blackmail of the Prince of Wales, is called in to investigate. And so he does. There’s lots of misdirection, and much of Eddy’s seedy past is revealed. Eddy might not have been Jack the Ripper, but his behaviour was, shall we say, less than exemplary. Powerscourt follows the trail backward, and not only learns who killed the Prince, but perhaps more importantly, why.

This leads to complications, as some people would much rather that some truths were kept secret, which leads to more danger for Powerscourt…

This is good stuff, with some strong, believable characters and convincing historical details. Well worth a read, and left me wanting more of the same.

[1] Blame it on early exposure to Sherlock Holmes
[2] Later King Edward VII