Peter and Paul Skillen, twin brothers who run a shooting, archery and boxing gallery in London.
Charlotte, Peter’s wife
Gully Ackford, owner of the gallery and former soldier
Micah Yeomans, a runner with the police
This is a detective story taking place in and around London, not really sure of the time frame, but they are still riding horses and have coaches and carriages. There is no mention of the ‘horseless carriage’ so before 1900 at least. Leo Paige has come to a shooting gallery to hire a body guard, as he knows his life is in danger. Someone has been following him for the last few days and because of his career of creating caricatures of the powerful in government, he has made many enemies among politicians and the wealthy. When he enters the gallery he sees his former comrade in arms, Gully Ackford, not realizing that Gully is the owner of the establishment. Gully quickly assigns a bodyguard to follow Leo but, alas, it is of no avail, and Leo dies later that day, strangled in his apartment which is then set on fire, hoping to destroy all of Leo’s work along with the body. The bodyguard that has been sent to trail Leo is himself attacked and left for dead so the brothers Skillen realize that two men are involved in the murder of Leo. The Skillen brothers, who work with Gully at the gallery vow to outdo the runners, headed by Micah Yeomans and find the murderer of their friend. Peter and Paul Skillen are twins so identical very few people can tell them apart, although their personalities are almost opposite. This leads to a lot mistaken identity and is double trouble for Micah Yeomans. Leo had been publishing a magazine disclosing some of the foibles and underhanded dealings of those in government, but the Penny Tax is enacted putting the price of his publication out of reach and so he closes down the venture. But he still works with an illustrator, known only as Virgo, creating caricatures of those in power, and Leo supplies the witticisms. His work is sold in a shop owned by a formidable woman, Diane, who now becomes the next target for whoever has killed Leo. Likely suspects include a member of parliament, a wealthy business man and a doctor. All have felt the brunt of Leo and Virgo’s scathing criticism.
This is a fairly simple plot with a lot of good natured competition between the two groups, the Skillens and the crew at the gallery, and the runners headed by Micah Yeomans working for the police. I won’t give away who wins but it’s an enjoyable read.