So the Victorian adventurers who first made our acquaintance in The Talons of Weng Chian and went on to have their own Companion Chronicle The Mahogany Murderers now appear in their own boxset. As we will later learn (and when I catch up) they have so far appeared in four such sets, with every expectation of three more (and why does reviewing Jago & Litefoot make one alliterate so?).
Released in 2010, so not too late, here are their first four stories…
The Bloodless Soldier by Justin Richards: most of this story of soldiers being killed by a revenant reminded me of themes that would get re-used in The Emerald Tiger. I enjoyed this and then near the end it stepped up a notch in the scenes where Jago has to find it within himself to use the gun.
Apart from Jago and Litefoot themselves the whole panoply of characters gets used and Ellie Higson the barmaid played by Lisa Bowerman has a sensible part, being the sister of one of the soldiers who dies.
The Bellova Devil by Alan Barnes: this is a de-constructed Sherlock Holmes story with Litefoot being all logic and deduction and Jago being the master of disguise. The standard is maintained and the idea of a suicide club is disturbing. Duncan Wisbey is wonderful as the Scottish Doctor Sacker and Peter Silverleaf is a wonderful grave-digger/robber in the form of Resurrection Joe. Alex Mallinson, who does the covers, has a short role as the Manchester Mangler.
The Spirit Trap by Jonathan Morris: Ellie is to the fore in this tale of séances and spirits who come to take over bodies of the unwitting. This story gives Jago a chance to shine as his grip of theatrical artifice means he can explain all the trick of the fake medium.
But is this as simple a case as it seems?! Find out, if you dare!
Somewhat similar in places to The Unquiet Dead, this is still a great listen
The Similarity Engine by Andy Lane: this story has the privilege of wrapping up the adventure started in The Mahogany Murders and in doing so manages to link back to both The Spirit Trap and The Bellova Devil. This is a story where we, the listener, spot why a black ore leads to hair loss and tumours; we guess that a Similarity Engine may have some connection to a Babbage Difference Engine and most of all get the true story of Doctor Tulp.
We also get a pure Doctor Who style ending with appeals to better nature and the preparedness of the major characters to make the ultimate sacrifice.
The story ends, of course, in the pub with Ellie pouring drinks, though bloodless female corpses point the way to the next series of Jago & Litefoot!
The series as a whole
I enjoyed this immensely and picked up Series 2 in a sale offer. Nice but inoffensive arcs with Ellie linking the first three and Doctor Tulp linking the last three back to the Mahogany Murders. Lisa Bowerman acts as Ellie and directs but even acknowledging the quality of the writing, the final applause must go to Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter better known as those Victorian Adventurers Jago & Litefoot!