Mrs Henry’s brothel has its idiosyncrasies: house lunches on Sundays, shared cleaning duties, and Mrs Henry herself—a combination of mercenary efficiency and caring mentor for her girls. It’s home to Lizzie, Charlie and Dina, three women who have become close friends whilst soliciting on the streets of Victorian London. When prostitutes start turning up murdered, the girls’ work becomes more dangerous than usual, and the police investigation into the murder is getting nowhere fast. Fearing for their lives and seeking justice for the murdered girls, Mrs Henry’s girls take it upon themselves to catch the killer before he strikes again.
Targeted Age Group:: Adults
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
My interest in Victorian London developed during my undergraduate study. When I moved to London I enjoyed exploring streets and squares that had stood there and been part of the city as it evolved. I have always enjoyed crime and mystery – from police procedurals to the work of Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens. A House of Repute grew from these interest and a desire to tell a good story.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The protagonist came to me first, Lizzie. I wanted to place someone with good intent in a difficult environment. I developed the other characters around Lizzie, considering their roles in and influence upon her life.
Charlie had been scratched and bruised like an alley cat when she first turned up at Mrs Henry’s house. Following a perky knock at her door, Mrs Henry had almost closed it in Charlie’s face at the sight of the rough and prematurely marked young woman before she had even greeted the mistress of the house. But the alley cat was swift, and Charlie’s dainty foot in filthy shoes held the door ajar.
“Please leave. I have a house of repute.” The old woman’s strength could not shift Charlie’s stubborn foot.
“I know. You have a reputation about town. The best, apparently.” A raised eyebrow from Charlie, inflaming a red cut high on her forehead, had been returned by an interested glance from Mrs Henry.
“And what of it? I run a private, clean house.”
“I hear you have space for a new girl. I might know someone who could fill that place.” Charlie’s selfsatisfied smile softened her scratches, and Mrs Henry saw how young she was. Beneath the dirt was a strong young woman whose eyes held a strange mixture of mirth and challenge that Mrs Henry had not encountered before, and nor would her customers.
“Well, if there is a girl who wants a good place, I would be pleased to meet her. She would have to follow the rules of the house.”
“Of course. You need to maintain your standards, your reputation.” Mrs Henry had nodded at this and opened the door further. Charlie had daintily removed her foot from the door.
“Could I come in and tell you about her?”
“I think you should.” Mrs Henry had nodded again, mirrored this time by Charlie, and the wounded young woman had followed her new mistress into the house
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