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The Missing Moonstone by Jordan Stratford

Two life stories have here been conflated to great effect; it is 1826 and the young Ada Byron and Mary Shelley (in reality eighteen years apart, instead of three) are thrown together to form the first Secret Constabulary for the Apprehension of Clever Criminals.

For their first case, they investigate the disappearance of a precious moonstone of mesmeric repute. The investigation is complicated by the fact that Newgate Prison is already holding the thief. Or is it? For Ada, who would grow up to work with Charles Babbage on his Analytical Engine (often sited as the 'first computer'), there are too many variables. Her unconventional approach leads to a thrilling coach chase through London and some dirigible shenanigans before the case is wrapped up.

Jordan Stratford conjures an amusing and enjoyable short novel, anchored in the lives of these extraordinary young women. The clandestine investigations of the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency look like they will have a lot of fun, with the years before Mary scandalised London with Frankenstein and Ada became effectively the world's first computer programmer. If you have been Cat Royal-ed, Goth Girl-ed or Wells & Wong-ed, then this will keep you very happy.

Further reading: The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & Babbage, an abridged or annotated Frankenstein, or ask us about other historical novels.

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