Captain Lacey Series – Ashley Gardner

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I had read about the Hanover Square Affair a few months back and I finally got an opportunity to read this author when I got my Kindle. ( Yes, it has happened!)

Captain Lacey would have been a prime candidate for my ‘Dark, Melancholy Detectives’ write up, had I known about him earlier. He is brooding, bad- tempered and given to “fits of melancholia”, which prostrates him for a couple of days every time something bad happens in his life. He is a veteran of the peninsular wars and has taken voluntary retirement following an ‘almost’- scandal with his commander and one-time best friend, Colonel Brandon.

The first novel introduces us to Captain Lacey and in turn his initiation into the world of detection. As the novels progress so does the circle of friends around Lacey providing interesting foils to the grimness of his life. At the time the reader enter’s his life, Lacey has already gained the friendship of a powerful and rich socialite, Lord Grenville who is interested in the adventures that tend to befall Lacey and does everything in his power to assist him, not only monetarily but also in the form of manpower needed to do the legwork. Louisa Brandon is the wife of Colonel Brandon and the closest person to Lacey in the beginning even though her husband and Lacey are no longer cordial to each other. Also present is his neighbour, Mariaane Simmons, an actress who lives in the same rundown building as Lacey and is prone to stealing his candles and bread whenever his back is turned. James Denis is a powerful criminal of sorts whom Lacey encounters in the very first book of the series and who decides to foil Lacey’s efforts to dethrone him in an absolutely ingenious way.

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I almost don’t like Captain Lacey as a person, even given his talent for deduction and his high moral values, at least as far as honor is concerned. He is just too volatile and uncontrolled in his reactions to situations and given to an over-abundance of pride that is usually misplaced. Louisa Brandon was another sore point for me, at least for the first few novels, as she seems to be unable to decide if she wants to stay with her husband or run away with her ‘friend’.Yet, the story engrosses one completely, as do the shenanigans of the absolutely fascinating list of  secondary characters.

The mysteries that Captain Lacey undertakes solving or the ones that he is coerced into solving  are both believable and engrossing, apart from being extremely well written. Lacey being a poor gentleman would never have been able to undertake half his assignments without the financial and moral support of Grenville and it still takes him 3 novels to appreciate the friendly aristocrat. James Denis with his vast repertoire of informants and his deep pocket is another person who pops in with important information at most convenient times and is therefore indispensable for the success of our unlikely hero.  It is also heartening to see Lacey’s thought processes clearing up as the novels progress and him making inroads into a more stable frame of mind.

The Captain Lacey series are a must read for Regency – era lovers. It covers all aspects of the perfect pot-boiler – mystery, adventure, romance, bromance and intrigue. I am eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series not only for the mystery but also for the unfolding stories of all the protagonists.

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2 thoughts on “Captain Lacey Series – Ashley Gardner

    1. Kindle – paperwhite No.4 Its lite- weight and being non-backlit I can read it even while sitting in the sun but not with the lights turned off in bed ( i intend to get the kindle-cover with the lamp for that purpose). It also has wi-fi so you can browse the net too. I have already read about 20 books on it in about 10 days so you can imagine I have taken to it like a fish to water.I think it was easier since I had long decided to stop ‘wasting’ money on books that I would only read once and started reading on my 10 kg laptop and hefting it all over the place- even to Gujarat! The kindle almost feels ‘too’ feather lite in comparison, but imagine the freedom of carrying a 1000 books in your pocket. Now I can really concentrate on buying beautiful books like I always wanted to. for someone like me who reads everywhere from buses to bed, to the loo, to during commercial breaks on tv, while cooking and eating it is definitely easier.

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