From the tantalising prologue which sets the crime scene for detective and protagonist, Bridie Devine, to step forth into, the intricate spider’s web of the plot of Things in Jars is a page-turner which readers will struggle to disentangle themselves from; nor will they want to.
Thrust into a world of crime, unusual artefacts, plot twists and Victorian gore the reader is drawn into a novel which at times almost reads like poetry, so carefully worded are the descriptions and so heavily reliant on the imagery which paints the scenes so vividly. London itself is skilfully personified in such a way as to leave the reader under no illusions as to one – what a talented writer Jess Kidd is, and two – the city setting her investigator has dug herself into: “London is just like a difficult surgical patient; however cautious the incision anything and everything is liable to burst out. Dig too deep and you’re bound to raise floods and bodies, to say nothing of deadly miasmas and eyeless rats with foot-long teeth.”
Against this terrifying backdrop, Bridie Devine must race against time to save the unusual child, Christabel Berwick, without truly knowing what makes her so unusual. Clues are dropped throughout and the way the various character stories intertwine with one another over a timespan of some twenty years serves to show the work which Kidd has put in to concocting a plot which is both intricate and well-developed.
Grant Stott recently interviewed author Kidd about her latest novel on his afternoon show where she explained that the idea for the story started with her leading lady and built out from there and it is a technique which clearly works as the reader cannot help but will Bridie Devine to succeed after a previously unsuccessful case. During her investigations Devine also unearths ghosts from her own past which may help to untangle the myriad of mysteries that crop up.
Things in Jars is one of those books the reader does not want to end and closes for the final time feeling hopeful of a sequel. The writing style is beautifully descriptive and quite unique, coming together with an enticing and exciting storyline to create a most memorable read.