Against the backdrop of East End London and Jack the Ripper murders, our heroine, Grace Hammer, makes her way through the world by lifting wallets and raising her children to do the same. Negotiating their way through the East End criminal world of questionable virtue, theft, kidnappings, murders, and double-crosses, the Hammer family makes a comfortable, if lower class, living. Meanwhile, Mr. Blunt obsessively and madly hunts Grace for a wrong done 15 years ago.
The Fortunes of Grace Hammer is a fun read. The background may be only sketched and the characters lightly inked in, but Sara Stockbridge does so with such aplomb and fun that we care about them, what they do, and what happens next. The story line splits its attention equally between the Hammer family relationships and their interactions with the larger world, and Mr. Blunt’s fixated pursuit. The shifts between viewpoints and story lines may occasionally feel quick, but they always flow well.
One thing that did surprise me was how light and cheerful this book was. Despite its setting in the criminal world of Victorian England, the grit and the crime, I could not help having a slight smile as I read.