by Richard Helms
Date Published: 10-23-2023
Publisher: Level Best Books’ Historia Imprint
A historical mystery based on Helms’ Derringer Award-nominated EQMM short story “The Cripplegate Apprehension”.
In 1843 London, a Scottish woodturner named Daniel M’Naghten gunned down Edward Drummond, the private secretary to Prime Minister Robert Peel, while Drummond strolled the streets of Whitehall. M’Naghten believed he shot the Prime Minister and, after being informed otherwise and making a brief statement at his arraignment, he never spoke in public about the crime again. M’Naghten was represented at trial by firebrand Queen’s Counsel Alexander Cockburn, who intended to plead insanity and rewrite four hundred years of English Common Law in the process. In this fictional retelling of the famous historical event, Cockburn recruits legendary London thief-taker Vicar Brekonridge to travel to Glasgow, M’Naghten’s home, and find witnesses who can bolster the insanity defense. What Brekonridge finds instead suggests that M’Naghten was part of a frightening conspiracy to bring down the British government.
PRAISE FOR VICAR BREKONRIDGE
“In a seamless blending of historical fact and narrative skill, Richard Helms reimagines the sensational case of Daniel M’Naghten, whose 1843 murder trial set a precedent that reverberates to this day. Helms has crafted a thoroughly gripping historical mystery that will leave readers eager to hear more of the “notorious thief-taker” Vicar Brekonridge.
—Daniel Stashower, Edgar Award Winning Author of American Demon
“VICAR BREKONRIDGE may be one of (Richard Helms’) more intriguing creations…a fascinating character to follow around, as he makes his way through the streets and back alleys of London, through its open air markets and dingy taverns or journeying out to Newgate Prison to visit a man he put there…For all his rough-and-tumble manners, cynical bravado, mercenary motives and sliding scale honesty, in a shady profession not particularly known for its integrity, he struts through the streets of London, a cloud of hemp in his wake, hewing to some inexplicable personal code that betrays a startling even-minded empathy for the criminals he hunts down, and a concern for — of all things — justice, which reminded me of Sam Spade‘s moral ambivalence. “
—Kevin Burton Smith, Thrilling Detective Website
About the Author
A lifelong North Carolinian, Richard Helms retired from active practice as a forensic psychologist in 2005, after working in the field for over two decades. At one time, he was the only court psychologist covering four counties in NC. A court-recognized expert in sex crimes and the psychology of sex offenders, mystery writing was an easy transition and a logical next step after Helms left his professional career to become a college professor in Charlotte. He retired from teaching in the summer of 2016 to become a full time writer. Helms has twenty-two novels in print.
Besides writing, Helms loves gourmet cooking, woodworking, traveling, simracing, amateur astronomy, playing with his grandsons, and rooting for the Carolina Tarheels and Carolina Panthers. For a peek at his non-writing life, check out his other website at www.rickhelms.com
The parents of two grown children, Richard Helms and his wife Elaine live in Charlotte, NC.