The Glass House (2004) by Ashley Gardner, is the third book in the Captain Gabriel Lacey series set in Regency, England. The story follows calvary officer, Gabriel Lacey as he tries to hunt down a killer of a young actress whose body was pulled from the Thames.
Name your vice because The Glass House provides it to gentleman of wealth and quality. It is a gaming hell that most magistrates have tried to shut down but for some odd reason, it has remained open for business. Retired calvary officer, Captain Gabriel Lacey is asked to investigate the death of a barrister’s wife whose body was pulled from the Thames. Suspects abound from the husband on down to the owner of the gaming hell where she was holding her secret trysts.
The victim, Amelia Chapman aka “Peaches”, was an actress who married a barrister and was secretly having a passionate affair with a baron. It is after her death that her life is examined more closely as well as her movements up till the time of her death. Captain Lacey is asked to look into this case by the Bow Street Runners magistrate’s office. Being handed the assignment, he goes searching diligently for this young woman’s killer.
The series is told from the narrative view of Captain Lacey. Lacey is a man of honor and dignity. He left the war in disgrace and has a injury that requires his use of a walking stick. Lacey has as he describes it “good lineage” but he is without money or prospects. He is just a poor calvary officer living alone in London. To make up for the lack of his social standing or wealth within society, he befriends Lucius Grenville, a gentleman most popular and sought after in the ton.
Grenville and Lacey became friends when Lacey thwarted a thief in Grenville’s home (The Hanover Square Affair). The two men are often found working together to help the Bow Street Runners solve crimes. Greenville does so out of curiosity since he is so often bored with the ton and Lacey does it because he has nothing else to do with his time and he is often susceptible to melancholy and loneliness. He was married once but his estranged wife left him and took their young daughter with her.
Amid this investigation, Lacey also has an ongoing feud with his former commanding officer, Aloysius Branson. The two men were in the same regiment in Spain but had a falling out. Branson sent Lacey off into a trap of French resistance and he wasn’t expected to come back out alive but he did. Alongside that, Branson was getting ready to leave his wife, Louisa, due to her failure to give him a son but he changes his mind. However, after his wife learns of his initial decision to leave her, she goes searching for comfort in Lacey’s arms (not his bed) and the husband catches them together. The two men have never been friends since this incident. This ill will causes much strife between the three friends and thus, Louisa is forced to make a choice that is disadvantageous to Lacey.
The complexity of the mystery in here was moderate as there were a lot of suspects to sift through. I was more interested in Lacey’s personal life rather than his investigation in this entry even though the mystery in here was a solidly written one despite the many red herrings. The Glass House and the world it inhabits was interesting but it didn’t sustain the story or my interest. This ended up being just an average read for me. I’ve enjoyed the previous books in this series so it must be my mood. I had just finished another mystery before starting this one and I can’t help but compare the two books/styles.
Anyway, I like the central character in here but he lacks a dark side. I liked seeing him interact within his time period and the author acknowledging social strictures of the time. Perfect, honorable people are usually boring to me but Lacey has grown on me. He can handle his own and has shown anger and has moments of melancholy but I like characters who have flaws outside of the physical. It’s hard to assign a grade to a book that is well written but fails to instigate more than a lukewarm response. My grade, C+.
This review is apart of the TBR Challenge 2009 my fellow readers and I are participating in this year. Please visit the other participants in this challenge and thank you for visiting!