I picked up Inspector of the Dead on the trade table as I was leaving the world's largest mystery convention, Bouchercon, last November, and stuffed it in my already overstuffed bag because I thought the cover was so beautiful. That was even before I noticed that David Morell wrote it and that it had two autographed postcards from Morrell inside. I am so glad I did. I loved reading this book.
My first favorite thing about this book is the characters. The series revolves around the fictionalization of the real writer Thomas De Quincey, most well known for writing, Confessions of an Opium Eater. (If you are curious about Confessions, you can find it electronically along with many works out of copyright, on gutenberg.org.)
You also get point of view from his daughter, Emily, who favors the newfangled and somewhat scandalous bloomer skirts over pants invented by Amelia Bloomer, the rich and powerful Home Secretary of England, Lord Palmerston, and various members of the newly formed Metropolitan Police Department and Scottland Yard. These characters are all different and fun to watch.
My second favorite thing it's set in Victorian England in 1855. Morrell does a brilliant job providing a sense of the City of London at that time, the political concerns, economic disparities, and Victorian attitudes in a fresh way. The books are like their covers - you get lost in the London fog as you are drawn into the time and the lines blur between fact and fiction.
My third favorite thing is that this book was the second in a series, so as soon as I finished, I got the first book, Murder as a Fine Art. It was as excellent as the second, and I didn't feel like I lost anything having read the second in the series first. It had all of the same main characters and the murder laid out in the first echos an actual murder De Quincey wrote an essay about and one of the most infamous murders of that time, The Ratcliff Highway multiple murders.
I will definitely be on the lookout for book number three.