Mask of the Verdoy: A George Harley Mystery (Book #1) by Phil Lecomber

Mask of the Verdoy

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Vile criminals, anarchy, betrayal, malfeasance, social and economic inequalities, life-threatening scenarios, violent clashes between fascists and anti-fascists, and steadily increasing tension culminating in a high stakes confrontation are all key elements in making the Mask of the Verdoy an entrancing fast-paced mystery.

George Harley, a private detective in London during the Great Depression, rescues Aubrey, a male homosexual, from a vicious attack. While Aubrey is recuperating at George’s house from injuries he suffered during the attack, he meets an untimely demise. His death is ruled a suicide by the police, even though George points out clues that lean toward murder as the probable cause of death. When George is ignored, he decides to conduct his own investigation and discovers that two of Aubrey’s peers died under similar circumstances, with their deaths also ruled suicides.

The investigation is the catalyst that draws George into helping with a covert operation by the recently appointed Metropolitan Police Commissioner, who has been tasked with rooting out corrupt officials in the police force and putting a stop to anarchist bombings. George’s involvement in the operation leaves him walking the boundary between the criminal underworld and the legitimate sector, and sometimes the line between what is legally right and wrong becomes blurred.

Phil Lecomber’s evocative description of the unstable political and economic climate in 1930s London is intertwined with depictions of abhorrent criminal acts, brilliant plotting, and astute characterizations. This allows readers to immerse themselves into the heart-stopping action of the book and stay engrossed until the very last page. There are surprising twists and turns with clues leading the reader astray until the author is ready to reveal the guilty party. After the reveal, the tension doesn’t let up. The reader is left wondering if George can figure out how to put a stop to a terrorist plot that could change the lives of the British people forever.

Extensive research by the author contributes to the authenticity of this suspenseful and exciting mystery. The use of jargon adds a rich ambience to the story. An added bonus is the inclusion of a glossary of slang terminology. Readers will enjoy the ingenious way the title of the book is woven into the storyline.

Mask of the Verdoy is an excellent first book in a series featuring George Harley as a private detective. The novel is cleverly written and leaves readers anticipating more convoluted mysteries for George Harley to solve.

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