Things in Jars by Jess Kidd review – high-camp crime

This post is by Hermione Eyre from Books | The Guardian

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A pipe-smokin’, crypt-crashin’ heroine brings originality and freshness to this Victorian detective drama

This pacy piece of Victorian crime fiction delivers chills galore: pickled babies, wicked surgeons, a head in a hatbox and other unsettling discoveries. “The baby isn’t suckling the mother’s finger, it’s gnawing it,” is a gasped pronouncement made, of course, in a crypt. Yes, this is a sidestep into genre – Jess Kidd’s two previous novels, Himself and The Hoarder, were contemporary and more original – but it is done with panache.

The lead character is Bridget “Bridie” Devine, a pipe-smokin’, crypt-crashin’, child-rescuin’ proto-detective who sometimes dons moustaches and male clothing to gain admission to operating theatres. She spends her long walks across Victorian London thinking, divining (her name needs little unpicking), and chatting with her hallucinations. An attractively independent character, she is always “captain of her own ship”. And she is followed around by an ...