Constable Simon Pearce is clever and dedicated to his job with Scotland Yard. But his natural curiosity and adherence to justice don’t always mean he has an easy time of it. In The Simon Pearcs Mysteries series, we follow Simon from London, to Edinburgh, to Cornwall as he solves one injustice after another and tries to find a home of his own.
In A Study in Spectres, we’re introduced to Simon, who walks a rough beat in one of London’s tougher neighborhoods. Ghostly violence leads to a classic “locked room” mystery before Simon must escort a devilish hound to Edinburgh. Here he meets medical student, Cal Webster, and solves a murder most foul.
In A Case of Curses, Simon has been temporarily seconded to the Edinburgh police force, which mean he can further his relationship with Cal. But first he’ll have to delve into the world of séances and investigate a far too fresh body found in a museum sarcophagus.
Sanguine Solutions finds Simon returned to London, without Cal, and miserable because of it. He throws himself into work, while investigating bizarre blood rituals and risking his career in the process. After making one enemy too many, Simon flees to Cornwall and takes on the position of a country constable. Chasing chickens thieves isn’t exactly intellectually stimulating, but it’s a chance to start over.
After months apart, in Arcane Adversaries, Simon hears from Cal. It may mean there’s hope for reconciliation, but it also means Simon must come to terms with his current lover. He’ll have to solve two last mysteries before making a decision that could change the direction of his life forever.
The Simon Pearce Mysteries, starting with A Study in Spectres, are a collection of short stories, usually two per volume, which involve crimes ranging from murder to theft and run the gambit in between. Simon is affable and engaging as a main character and the fine line he walks between solving crimes and an avoiding a sodomy charge in Victorian London provides a decent level of tension. Cal, his primary (though not only) love, doesn’t have much depth and while the romance is somewhat secondary to the mysteries, there’s enough of it that I wanted Cal to have further definition. He serves as a worthy foil for Simon, which was one of the reasons I wanted to see a lot more of his character.
These stories read almost as an uncollected, unfinished novel. And I think that’s why the overall plot suffers somewhat. There are cases we hear about, but never get to read, and the relationship between Simon and Cal evolves primarily off page. So when I was reading the stories, I felt like I was missing a lot of background: background on their romance; background on Simon’s life in London, Edinburgh, and Cornwall; and background on the secondary characters important to Simon. It felt like the author had so much more to tell us about this character, but decided to reveal him in drips and drabs. And that just doesn’t work as well as I hoped. The mysteries are fine, though they weren’t that difficult to solve as a reader, but I think fans of Sherlock Holmes, etc will like them well enough. While I wanted more development of the overall story and the characters, Simon was interesting enough on his own to hold my focus. He’s a good man and his ability to manage the wide array of situations thrown his way feels believable. He saves this series and makes it worth reading.
The Simon Pearce Mysteries contain four volumes of short stories that follow the life and career of Constable Simon Pearce. The stories struggle with a lack of backstory and failed to build a strong enough scaffolding to support the overall plot. But Simon and his work as an investigator are engaging enough to make this series worth your time and energy. The stories are quick reads and the pacing is always fairly strong. So if you’re a fan of mysteries, I think you’ll enjoy Simon Pearce.