This is where the title of this blog comes from btw 😀
I’ve been a fan of “The Woman in White” and “The Moonstone” for a long time now and I knew that Wilkie Collins had quite a bit of writing experience under his belt; however, I haven’t really looked into his works until now. As most of you know, classic literature is free to buy on Amazon for Kindle, so I have acquired quite a few of his works over the past month. The title of “The Law and the Lady” made me believe it was a great place to start due to my future profession.
The protagonist of the book is a recently married Valeria who is known to be one of the first literary female detectives. She is very much in love with her new husband Eustace who, however, seems to be pulling away from her from the very first week of their marriage. When she decides to investigate the matter, she stumbled upon a terrible secret from his past – he has been suspected and tried for allegedly murdering his first wife. According to the Scottish law of the time, a man could be either held to be guilty or not guilty of his crime; however, there was also a possibility of the third verdict – crime not proven, which does not exist in English law. When Valeria discovers that the latter verdict was the outcome of Eustace’s case, she decides to prove his innocence because she firmly believes that he did not commit the crime. She chooses to start her investigation by talking to the key witness, a crippled misogynystic madman named Misserimus Dexter. With somewhat questionable help from him, her mother-in-law, her husband’s friends and their lawyer, she slowly uncovers the truth.
“It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
Before you tell me that Wilkie Collins is not, in fact, Jane Austen, I would just like to say that I feel that the aforementioned quote is ironically applicable to this wonderful piece of detective fiction. Eustace is a rich man, no doubt about that. However, I feel that he is also in possession of quite a lot of emotional baggage, which is exactly what triggers the plot of the novel. Overall, I’d say that one should be familiar with at least one other work of Wilkie Collins before getting their hands on this one (my personal recommendation is “The Woman in White”), because he has a very distinct style of writing and certain nuances of the law-related parts of the novel may not be as clear to an unenlightened reader. It is an interesting Victorian murder mystery novel, although I must say I figured out the ending halfway through the book. If you like strong, complex characters, Sherlock Holmes and murder mysteries, this little gem is for you. I give it a solid 8/10.
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