Book Review: An enjoyable smorgasbord of Victorian society, with a proper boo-hiss villain

Story finds room for Victorian social history, questions about the press crossing lines and enjoyable portraits of characters

Herbert and Mary Jane Bennet

“Mercy, Mercy!”

Teenagers Alfred and Blanche were looking for somewhere to do a bit of late night canoodling and found “an appropriately secluded hollow” on the beach. They were soon disturbed by another couple walking up the sand “talking loudly, as if quarrelling.” The new arrivals sat about thirty yards south and shortly after, the woman cried out for mercy, “a sort of dying exclamation,” before the night fell silent again.

This was a time ...