The Skull and the Nightingale by Michael Irwin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A little disappointing, to be honest: the psychological parts of this didn't quite rise to the level that the start of the book promised. Richard Fenwick, orphan dependent on the goodwill of his godfather, has just returned to London following a Grand Tour. Wondering what's next, he's asked (by the godfather) to stay in a boarding house and then to visit his godfather's country estate. While there, he's given his "mission" - to experience life, specifically the seedy, degraded side, and report back to his godfather, a man who feels less than able to experience that on his own.
This isn't quite an epistolary novel, as there are large stretches where Richard is acting without reporting. The letters themselves are interesting slices of Town life in the 18th century, but at times it felt like kitchen-sinking (oh! can't forget to put that in...). Richard's life outside the letters tries to make him a better, more thoughtful man than the letters allow him to be.
ARC provided by publisher.