Reviewed by Sarina
TITLE: Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Skavo
SERIES: Stoker & Bash #1
AUTHOR: Selina Kray
PUBLISHER: Self Published
LENGTH: 310 pages
RELEASE DATE: June 7, 2017
At Scotland Yard, DI Timothy Stoker is no better than a ghost. A master of arcane documents and niggling details who, unlike his celebrity-chasing colleagues, prefers hard work to headlines. But an invisible man is needed to unmask the city’s newest amateur detective, Hieronymus Bash. A bon vivant long on flash and style but short on personal history, Bash just may be a Cheapside rogue in Savile Row finery.
When the four fangs of the Demon Cats of Scavo—trophies that protect the hunters who killed the two vicious beasts—disappear one by one, Stoker’s forced to team with the very man he was sent to investigate to maintain his cover. He finds himself thrust into a world of wailing mediums, spiritualist societies, man-eating lions, and a consulting detective with more ambition than sense. Will this case be the end of his career, or the start of an unexpected liaison? Or will the mysterious forces at play be the death of them both?
And just who is Hieronymus Bash?
There’s just something amazing about having all your expectations about something blown away and this book did that in spades. When I first started reading, I honestly expected Hieronymus Bash to be something like Sherlock Holmes (the Robert Downey Jr version because he was more fun) with a dash of the irreverent rogue thrown in to help tick off the officers of the Yard. What I got was so very different but so very good!
There are lots of things I could say about Hieronymus Bash but that would also be giving things away that are best left to be discovered as you read. What I will say is that Hiero is a unique, highly entertaining individual who thrives on attention and practically lives for the times he’s in the spotlight. Underneath all that, however, he’s also an incredibly caring man who can’t help but lend a hand to someone in desperate need of one. Timothy Stoker, on the other hand, is considered quite ordinary and, unlike Bash, spends his time fading into the shadows so as not to draw attention to himself. These two men, who should be all rights be on opposite sides of most everything, instead find themselves drawn together first by circumstance and then by a kind of helpless mutual regard that later blooms into more. Both men have their strengths and weaknesses but what drew me to them both as individuals and as a couple were the mysteries they’re each hiding. Bash’s back story is hinted at over the course of the book while Stoker’s own past is more blatantly put forward as an explanation into his choices. In either case, there are questions left unanswered that I’m really looking forward to delving into in future stories.
The mystery itself was fantastic; there was a great variety of characters, all of them fleshed out beautifully, that added to my enjoyment while keeping me constantly guessing as to who the antagonist was. The historical details were pretty spot on, the action scenes were a blast to read, and I found myself completely in love with the descriptions and the way everything was just presented. (Seriously, it was all really good!) By the end of the story I’d changed my mind numerous times as to who the culprit actually was and why and I’m thrilled to say that I was wrong on all counts.
This book was both a complete surprise and a complete joy to read; I was so engrossed in the story and the characters that I was super sad to see the book end. If you enjoy historical mysteries and are looking for a book that features characters that make their own way outside of the expectations of society, I’d give this one a look. I will totally be eagerly awaiting the sequel in the meantime!