The Darkest Walk, by Malcom Archibald

Book Review by James Carson | 22 Sep 2011
  • The Darkest Walk, by Malcom Archibald
Book title: The Darkest Walk
Author: Malcom Archibald

The workers are revolting – and not just because they haven’t had a wash. Insurrection is in the air, and only one man can save the respectable classes from 'the effluvia of society'. Step forward, James Mendick, a Victorian constable in the Metropolitan Police. Mendick goes undercover among Manchester’s Chartists to gather intelligence on their plans for parliamentary reform. But once exposed to the grim realities of life with the impoverished workers, Mendick shows signs of going native. His divided loyalties are further complicated by the discovery that the Chartists are being used to create a diversion from a much deadlier conspiracy. With no backup, and mobile communications limited to carrier pigeons, Mendick must warn Scotland Yard of a grave threat to the heart of the state. Yet, even with a sprained ankle, our hero takes it all in his stride. Some may find Mendick’s squeaky clean character far-fetched, but he wouldn’t be the first improbably decent detective to win readers’ hearts. In an afterword, Malcolm Archibald openly acknowledges that he has played fast and loose with historical fact. But his efforts to capture the miseries endured by the Victorian working classes ring true. In this story, squalor stalks every page. [James Carson]

Out now. Published by Fledgling Press. Cover price £8.99