Book Review: Death Comes But Twice (Carlyle and West Victorian Mysteries, Book 2) by David Field

Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Sapere Books
Pub date: 21 August 2020
Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

Who would want to murder a man who is already supposed to be dead?

London, 1893

When doctor James Carlyle is given a dead body to investigate, he makes a shocking discovery.

Innovative fingerprinting techniques reveal the dead man was Artus Skuja. But Skuja was hanged a year ago…

Carlyle discovers that his new friend, local preacher Matthew West was present at the hanging, and seeks out his help in solving the mystery.

And when more deaths occur, it seems a larger plot could be at large.

What really happened to Skuja? Who covered up his death?

And why was he targeted after his escape…?

Death Comes But Twice is the second instalment of Field’s Carlyle and West Victorian Mystery Series.
It has a nice introduction to the characters which is helpful if you haven’t read the first but also a nice refresher if you have.

Matthew West the local preacher is once again drawn in to unusual circumstances when surgeon Carlyle asks for his help upon the murder of a man who was believed to already be dead and West had been present at the original hanging so how was this man now in the morgue?

As more people are murdered the duo along with Adelaide (Carlyle’s daughter) and Inspector Jennings begin to worry West may be a target.

I already liked West and Carlyle from the first book but thoroughly enjoyed how their relationship developed in this instalment. Adelaide also became a much more prominent character and I found myself cheering her on in her own mission which I won’t spoil for anyone. The additional thread of the possible romance between West and Adelaide provides some light hearted humour and I am looking forward to seeing it develop in the next book. Additional characters such as Mary were great, you can’t help but be amused by some of her antics and how Adelaide reacts to them.

This is a great storyline which makes you think about how far we have come in terms of forensics and justice and Field has explored these subjects through this book.

I found it really interesting to read about the development of forensics such as fingerprinting and how it was developed as Carlyle, Adelaide and Jennings begin collecting samples and experimenting with fingerprint matches.



Field weaves historical fact into fiction such as the inclusion of the hangman Billingham, I wasn’t aware he was a real person until I read the authors note at the end but I like how Field includes facts in to his mysteries and in this book we read about issues such as religion, capital punishment and the fight of females for positions in male orientated roles. I enjoy Field’s writing style and have found this series to be a fun easy to read mystery series.

Death Comes But Twice is available now and the third instalment Confronting the Invisible also available for preorder.

‘We believe that no two people have the same patterns in their finger ends – “fingerprints”, as they are known in the Met.’

If you’re interested, my review for the first instalment, Interviewing the Dead can be found here

Thank you to NetGalley and Sapere Books for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.

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