Books & Literature

Book Review: A Necessary Murder, by MJ Tjia

Private investigator and deliciously alluring courtesan Heloise Chancey poses as a nursemaid to investigate the murder of two members of the Lovejoy family in Victorian London.

A Necessary Murder follows the story of private investigator and deliciously alluring courtesan, Heloise Chancey. Throughout the course of the novel, she embarks on the tedious and at times, dangerous adventure of solving the mystery surrounding the murders of the Lovejoy family members.

Adopting the role of the children’s nursemaid, Heloise attempts to uncover the secrets surrounding the household, and unveil the horrors which lie in her wake. She is tested both physically and emotionally as the novel progresses, and it appears that the family is much more involved with the murders than she realised. The twists and turns that surround Heloise and her friends are intriguingly compelling, creating an entertainingly lustful atmosphere for the reader.

Heloise is the type of female heroine that a reader wants: she’s strong, independent, throws herself into danger knowing full well that she can handle the consequences, and is viciously unapologetic of who she is. If that isn’t enough, she’s enormously witty and brings a light-hearted charisma which is rarely challenged or matched by another character.

This is the sequel to the first novel in the Heloise Chancey series, She Be Damned. As a stand-alone novel however, A Necessary Murder holds its own. The historical and atmospheric setting of a fogged and dreary London is obvious in the way that Tjia has purposefully selected the prose. It engages the imagination continuously.

Alternating chapters show a contrast between the perspective of Heloise, and that of her mother, Amah Li Leen, who is struggling with her own conflicts to do with her past and her family. As the novel continues, it becomes evident that there’s the possibility that what Amah Li is searching for, and Heloise’s murder case, could potentially be linked.

Despite the powerful characters, the setting, and the general plot, I found some aspects of the story were quite lengthy. All-in-all however, it did not dampen my original impression of the novel. It’s engaging, witty, and thought-provoking.

Reviewed by Phoebe Christofi
Twitter: @ChristofiPhoebe

Rating out of 10:  8

Distributed by: Pantera Press
Released: September 2018
RRP: $29.99

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