ARC Review: Old Scores by Will Thomas (Barker & Llewelyn #9)


OldScoresCoverOfficial Synopsis from Goodreads: When a Japanese diplomat is murdered, and Cyrus Barker is the prime suspect, Barker and sidekick Llewelyn must work against the clock to find the real killer.

In London of 1890, the first Japanese diplomatic delegation arrives in London to open an embassy in London. Cyrus Barker, private enquiry agent and occasional agent for the Foreign Service Office, is enlisted to display his personal Japanese garden to the visiting dignitaries.

Later that night, Ambassador Toda is shot and killed in his office and Cyrus Barker is discovered across the street, watching the very same office, in possession of a revolver with one spent cartridge.

Arrested by the Special Branch for the crime, Barker is vigorously interrogated and finally released due to the intervention of his assistant, Thomas Llewelyn, and his solicitor. With the London constabulary still convinced of his guilt, Barker is hired by the new Japanese ambassador to find the real murderer.

In a case that takes leads Barker and Llewelyn deep into parts of London’s underworld, on paths that lead deep into Barker’s own mysterious personal history, Old Scores is the finest yet in Will Thomas’s critically acclaimed series.

Genre: Historical Mystery
Setting: London 1890

***I received an ARC of Old Scores from the publisher, Minotaur Books, via NetGalley***

***this post contains affiliate links***

 Review: A good, solid historical mystery. Old Scores is book nine in the Barker & Llewelyn historical mystery series by author Will Thomas, and this book takes us back to London and deals with the beginning formation of the Japanese embassy in London. A lot of this book dealt with various history regarding Japan, China, England, and the United States, and a lot of this history I was unfamiliar with, and I wrote lots of items down to look up online. With so much history being discussed, this entry felt a bit slower than other books in the Barker & Llewelyn series. It isn’t that the plot wasn’t moving along or interesting, it was more like I mentally slowed down and thought about all of the different items being mentioned instead of just racing through the book.

After the Japanese delegation arrives, the Ambassador is killed, and Cyrus Barker is arrested for his murder. The book is told from the point of view of Thomas Llewelyn, Barker’s assistant, and Llewelyn is again, a great narrator. He’s not always serious, and he voices his frustration with Barker’s secrecy, and he’s just an all-around likeable guy. You get a bit more of Barker’s background in this book, namely his history in Japan, and I thought this aspect was well done and fitting.

The one problem I had with Old Scores is that I had trouble connecting to any of the red herrings and various characters that arise during the murder investigation. I don’t know if it was a matter of too many characters, or if it was that the characters were all too similar. I didn’t recall any distinguishing characteristics, so was constantly forgetting who was who and what job that person had.

One of my favorite scenes in this book involved a dinner hosted by Ho, an old friend of Barker’s who runs an underground Chinese restaurant in London. At the dinner that Ho is hosting for the Japanese delegation, he serves fugu, and I’ve been fascinated by this fish and the preparation for years, so I was really happy to see this mentioned in the book.

I’m so glad that this series keeps going, as I really enjoy the characters of Barker and Llewelyn, and the various regular characters that appear every so often. While this entry wasn’t my favorite of the series, due to not being able to connect or keep track of all of the suspects, I still enjoyed it and recommend it to those who enjoy historical mysteries.

Bottom Line: A good and solid entry in the Barker & Llewelyn historical mystery series.


LINKS    ***the Amazon links are affiliate links which means that if you click the link and make a purchase, then I receive a small commission

Old Scores   Amazon   |   Goodreads

And the Barker & Llewelyn Mysteries in order are:

  1. Some Danger Involved     Amazon   |   Goodreads
  2. To Kingdom Come
  3. The Limehouse Text
  4. The Hellfire Conspiracy
  5. The Black Hand
  6. Fatal Enquiry   my review
  7. Anatomy of Evil   my review
  8. Hell Bay   my review

Have you read any of the Barker & Llewelyn books? Will we ever learn all of Barker’s mysteries? Does this sound like a good mystery series? Do you enjoy historical mysteries?


7 thoughts on “ARC Review: Old Scores by Will Thomas (Barker & Llewelyn #9)

  1. I’m so glad you mentioned that there were too many characters and a lot of history of a number of places because, to be honest, my eyes glazed a bit when I read the Goodreads synopsis. So many names and places and things happening to people in one summary!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, there really are a lot here! Mysteries usually tend to have a lot of minor characters. Usually I can keep track of who’s who, but I really had trouble with this one!


  2. Glad you enjoyed this one, despite not fully connecting with the characters. Sometimes, a great story can make up for that 🙂 The fugu bit sure sounds interesting! Each Asian culture is so unique, but the Japanese and Chinese ones are two of my favorites.
    Lovely review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! 🙂 There really was a lot of information here about the history & culture here of Japan, and I found it fascinating! I haven’t read a whole lot about Japan and China during this time frame, so I spent a good amount of time looking up things online while reading this book! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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