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"The Night in Question" is fun, well constructed and finely researched. so that it immerses the reader into the the darker side of Victorian times - but not without some humour along the way.
The book takes place in the colourful milieu of the Victorian Music Halls, with a feisty comedienne, Dot Allbones as main protagonist. She's a grand artiste whose friends come from all ends of the social spectrum (toffs from the West End often frequented the seedy theatres with their burlesque ladies). Dot is doing quite well, as she says herself, with top billing in some of the best halls in London, but things take a new turn for her when Kate Eddowes, her one-time childhood friend turns up, down on her luck. In addition, some monstrous killer is fast making his mark around White Chapel - one who would later become known as Jack the Ripper. Enough said for now - read the book!
I loved the small details the author describes relating to theatres, performers and backstage rivalries. Her accounts of music hall traditions and the use of real characters (Marie Lloyd, Kate Eddowes, The Ripper) lend a real edge to the narrative. The humour throughout, especially, for example, when describing the backstage carry-on of the old music halls, can be laugh out loud. But the grimmer side of life, such as the appalling poverty and the condition of the lower orders of the otherwise "proper" society is equally vivid.
Since we're talking here about the audio version, the sheer drama lent to the book for any reader/listener by the wonderful actress Juanita McMahon is a bonus. McMahon's extraordinary range of accents, intonations and humorous delivery is pitch perfect every time and does the tale full justice.
Laurie Graham is the author of many more historical novels that cover an astonishing range of eras, from long-ago royal families to British women in World War II and even the Kennedys. Certainly, reading "The Night in Question" would make me want to read more.