1895. While the rich turn to Sherlock Holmes to solve their problems, in a dark corner of Southwark the poor turn to a man who despises Holmes, his wealthy clientele and his showy forensic approach to crime: Arrowood, self-taught psychologist and private investigator. When a man mysteriously disappears, Arrowood and his sidekick Barnett set out to defeat the head of the most notorious gang in London.

The concept of this book immediately grabbed me and the easy flow of the writing kept me eagerly reading to find out what happened next. Finlay’s debut marks the start of a new series that historical crime fans will be clamouring to read more of.

The plot was interesting and engaging (if a little convoluted) with enough red herrings and lively characters to keep you engaged. Unfortunately it did become repetitive, but the ending has enough excitement and tension to spur the reader on.

The writing is very atmospheric and the characters are gritty and flawed. At times it slips into cliché but overall the strength of the writing is impressive, particularly for a debut novel. Victorian London is filthy and riddled with crime, lorded over by men who think nothing of murdering anyone who stands in the way of what they want, and it seems inevitable that innocent people are going to get hurt.

Finlay gives you just enough information about the crime-solving duo Arrowood and Barnett to pique your interest, while holding enough back to ensure that readers will return for their next adventure. Holmes fans will enjoy the references to the detective’s famous cases and, while there are similarities between this book and Conan Doyle’s stories, this is not your standard rehash; it becomes something much more original and exciting.

It’s no surprise that Arrowood has already been snapped up for a TV deal, and it’s strongly reminiscent of Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike novels (also being adapted into a TV series). In Arrowood, Finlay has created a memorable detective who can stand among the best.

Many thanks to Harper Collins for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.