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The Anarchists' Club by Alex Reeve - Review

Saturday, July 6, 2024

I read The House on Half Moon Street in June 2023 and reading back my review of it, it seems like I didn't like it very much! But I was reminded of the series and decided to request the second one from the library, and when it arrived I picked it up really quickly. I really enjoyed it, way more than the first one. I think the author has settled into writing a bit, which helps. There's a lot less detail and less description, meaning that the writing flowed so much better. I really fell in love with Leo a lot more, and I now want to read the next two books in the series quite soon. I hope this book is a sign of things to come!

As a reminder, Leo is a trans man, but because the book is set in the 1880s, he doesn't have that terminology to refer to himself. But we would now, so I'm going to. He used to be known as Lottie Pritchard, the well to do daughter of a vicar, but he always knew he wasn't a girl, and finally, aged fifteen, her left the family home and made his way to London. He now lives in a chemist with Alfie, his landlord, and Alfie's daughter, Constance, who is twelve. 

So the book is set about a year after Maria died in the first book. Leo is working as a porter in the hospital, but actually there's way less of that which I liked because it just wasn't relevant to the story. He's working in the chemist one afternoon when a woman arrives with two children, aged ten and six ish. She buys some bromide and leaves. Leo wouldn't think anything of it except that a few days later the police arrive at Leo's door. The woman has been found in a shallow grave and in her pockets was a piece of paper with Leo's name and address. Leo is baffled as he only met her very briefly and has no idea who she is. 

He goes with the police to a confusing courtyard and warren of rooms where Dora has been found. The kids, Aiden and Ciara, soon turn up, and Leo comes to be very fond of them. The rooms where Dora lived are part of an anarchists club. There, Leo meets a man from his past - someone who knew him before - who wants an alibi for Dora's murder and who blackmails Leo, threatening to expose him if he doesn't provide the alibi. Maybe John is the murderer, but there are so many confusing things about that case. Leo also has to get back in touch with his family, which is difficult. 

There's Rosie, too, who we met in the first book as her husband was murdered. Constance wants her and Leo to be friends, but it's difficult between them. 

I loved the mystery here and the setting. I really think the author just settled into the world a lot more. I'm giving this four out of five. 

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