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The Butchered Man (The Northminster Mysteries Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Harriet Smart
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Northminster, 1840: a once-picturesque cathedral city, where dirty smoke stacks now rival ancient spires. When workmen make the shocking discovery of a mutilated corpse in a ditch outside the ancient walls, Giles Vernon and Felix Carswell are charged with solving the case.
Intelligent and practical, Chief Constable Major Vernon has transformed the old city watch into a modern police force, and he throws himself into the investigation with the same energy. But as he probes a murky world of professional gamblers and jilted lovers, he is drawn into a dangerous emotional game that threatens to undermine his authority.
Newly-qualified police surgeon Felix Carswell is determined to make his way in the world on his own terms despite being the bastard son of prominent local grandee Lord Rothborough. Called to treat a girl in an asylum for reformed prostitutes, what he uncovers there brings him into conflict with his new employer, Vernon, and throws the case into disarray.
Together they must overcome their differences and find the brutal truth behind the mystery of The Butchered Man.
The Butchered Man is the first Northminster Mystery featuring intrepid early-Victorian detectives Vernon and Carswell.

Product Description


"Historical objects are precisely and lovingly observed, and the author's awareness of changing styles and the symbolism of fashion is excellent." Phillipa Gregory, The Sunday Times, reviewing A Garland of Vows "Smart's characters have a feel of authentic life and move in and out of a backdrop which cunningly incorporates political change, trade union rebellion, suffragette noise and good food." Elizabeth Buchan, The Sunday Times, reviewing Green Grow the Rushes

About the Author

Harriet Smart was born and brought up in Birmingham. She attended the University of St Andrews, where she read Art History, and then married a fellow student. She now lives with her family in Edinburgh, with a view of the Castle from her study window. Harriet has published four historical novels and one contemporary novel as well as co-designing the innovative creative writing software "Writer's Cafe". She is presently working on The Northminster Mysteries, a series of crime novels set in early Victorian England. Her research for the books included wearing stays and hand-sewing a man's shirt. Harriet is also writing a manual on the process of story development and an ongoing blog novel set in Edwardian Scotland, She also blogs at and can be found on Twitter @fictionwitch.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 805 KB
  • Print Length: 367 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1906236798
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Anthemion; 3 edition (17 Nov. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004AM5OFK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #90,975 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Harriet Smart is a novelist living in Edinburgh.

Educated at the University of St Andrews, Harriet's debut novel, A GARLAND OF VOWS, was inspired by her research into a firm nineteenth century church furnishers and turned into an epic family saga, spanning fifty years. Her second novel, GREEN GROW THE RUSHES, set in Edwardian Scotland was short-listed for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award. She is currently writing a series of crime novels set in early Victorian England.

Along with her husband Julian Smart she has designed Writer's Café, a software toolkit for fiction writers. For more information see

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm not a big fan of the whole bonnets and frocks obsession that seems to run through a great deal of both TV and literature and I tend to steer clear of historical dramas of both kinds because it seems for me to get bogged down too easily in eye candy of the sartorial kind. I have about as much fashion sense (or interest for that matter) as a whelk so I am wary of period fiction as much of what is written seems to spend what feels like weeks describing precisely how fetching someone looked in their new gown.

However, I like a good murder and the more brutal, the better. I've grown tired though of the complex and confusing contemporary murder lit, where the star of the show is forensic science and every one else is a bit part player. So finding Harriet Smart's The Butchered Man was a real treat.
Combine the best of CSI logic (though set in a time when virtually all the science we take for granted is unknown), the characterisation quirks of Brother Cadfael, and a dash of Film Noir and you have a thoroughly enjoyable romp through an old fashioned murder mystery with twists and turns enough to keep armchair detectives guessing. There's deep motives at play, some of the very deepest but in some way what endears this book to me most is the relationship that grows between the two main characters. It's masterfully done, steering clear of the typical father-figure mentoring it could so easily have slid into, and steering equally clear of the somewhat suspect bro-mance scenario a lesser writer would have gone for. This is a partnership of equals, but the men themselves struggle to accept this and watching their struggles to work together is adds a frisson of conflict and friction to the mix and stops it getting too cosy.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! Couldn't put it down! 11 Jan. 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
I only downloaded this book three days ago but I've finished it already. I literally couldn't stop reading it, I was gripped straight away! I found myself loving and hating characters as if they were real people, and even though I read a lot of books like this, I was guessing the outcome right to the very end. I hope there'll be more books featuring this duo, it's a long time since I've been so enthralled by something that I've had to read it by torch-light so as not to disturb my sleeping husband!!! Wonderful!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
`The Butchered Man' is a historical detective story set in the fictional city of Northminster in 1840. It opens with the arrival of Felix Carswell M.D., the newly-appointed police surgeon to the City of Northminster Constabulary whose Chief Constable is one Major Giles Vernon.

Within hours of Felix's arrival, a dead and butchered body has been found and so begins what is a truly page-turning detective story told from the viewpoints of Carswell and Vernon. With these protagonists, Harriet Smart has created a pair of detectives that I hope to see more of in the future. They move between the lofty dwellings of the senior clergy in the Minster precincts, through the homes of the affluent trades-people to the outskirts of the city where prostitutes solicit and drunkards brawl.

Both Vernon and Carswell are likeable but flawed characters and it is the roundness of the characterisation which makes this novel so good. I would have liked to have read a little more of the back-story of Vernon but I suspect that is being held back as further Northminster Mysteries are planned. I do hope this will be the case as this has definitely left me waiting for more!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
I like crime books that are more about the atmosphere and characterization than the actual crime itself, so this was perfect for me. The two "detectives" are compelling and entertaining characters surrounded by a rich supporting cast and immersed in a clearly drawn world. The prose is so clear and consistent that you don't even notice the chapters zipping by. I am really looking forward to more books in this series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Potential for a good Series 17 July 2012
By Annie W
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
'The Butchered Man' introduces the police surgeon, chief constable and sundry others of the recently-formed Northminster Constabulary, and the town it supports. The leading characters have pasts which are gradually revealed as the story progresses, and their personal circumstances influence their conduct in the murder investigation. The plot is very skilfully contrived, and the various individuals and their families who come under scrutiny are very well drawn, each having distinct personalities and characteristics which reflect their status in the society in which they live. It is to be hoped that many of these will figure in future stories, as they all come across as real people, with their own principles, moral beliefs, cares, and difficulties, and they deserve to be continued.

The story has depth, and is beautifully woven together, so that I didn't mind when I worked out fairly early on in the narrative 'whodunnit'. I wasn't totally convinced, either, that the Major would be so indifferent to the slights of his Watch Committee in not offering him a chair when meeting with them, but that's only an opinion. What was a little distracting, however, was the number of minor grammatical and spelling errors (when will authors/proof-readers remember that a floor of a multi-level building is a 'storey', with 'storeys' as the plural), as well as the much more maddening 'missing word syndrome'.

Despite these minor gripes, I really look forward to the next in this series. Many thanks, Harriet Smart.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Butchered
Good book
Published 3 months ago by Tricky
4.0 out of 5 stars a good thriller
a definite page-turner. Sherlock-Holmes type mystery, with believable characters and an intriguing plot. Well written and well presented. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Helen Hollick
3.0 out of 5 stars Good plot
The beginning of a new series with a well devised plot, likeable characters decently created, a good plot with plenty of twists and turns. Read more
Published 18 months ago by lovereading
4.0 out of 5 stars Really good book
Really enjoyed reading this. Good thriller/murder mystery and enjoyed trying to solve who dunnit! Will look out for the next one.
Published 23 months ago by nellah
4.0 out of 5 stars Most enjoyable
Thoroughly deserves the 4 star rating I've given. A story much involved and extremely well written. I like all the characters and was impressed at the way the author let you build... Read more
Published on 21 Feb. 2013 by Lesley
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
I really enjoyed everything about the book - the plot, characters, the style of writing etc. The book kept my interest throughout and although the ending of the story was... Read more
Published on 30 Dec. 2012 by Anom
4.0 out of 5 stars Good history and murder suspense
Enjoyed the book very much. Good insights into the minds of people of that age and a good murder mystery.
Published on 15 Aug. 2012 by G. Urwin
5.0 out of 5 stars 2012 B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree
This terrific book by Harriet Smart is a 2012 B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree which means that readers feel it is a book well worth you time and money!
Published on 23 July 2012 by indieBRAG
5.0 out of 5 stars Good old-fashioned detecting
What a breath of fresh air this novel is, with its back to basics detective work, through necessity rather than design. Read more
Published on 17 July 2012 by Sarah Hague
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