This, the 3rd novel in Cameron's Denton series, was somewhat hard to find as I believe it does not have an American publisher....which is a pity, since anyone who has read the two previous novels (The Frightened Man and The Bohemian Girl) will definitely want this continuation of the series featuring the American writer and ex-gunfighter living in London at the turn of the century 20th.
As in previous Denton novels, we have Denton thrust into a mystery he has not looked for (a body is found in the backyard of his home) and this fact throws some suspicion on his female friend Janet (who lives in the house behind him, through a door in a fence), who has mixed up with a doctor giving illegal abortions and cannot use the bad publicity. Denton's curiosity is aroused, so travels all over London to try and find who the girl was, why she is dead in his backyard, and if it is connected to any other wrong-doings. His loyal manservant Atkins and lady-friend Janet are both back to assist, several characters from previous novels also make appearances, and several new characters also pop up to help and hinder Denton in his investigations. Despite a complete stone-walling of the case from official sources, Denton soon discovers links between the dead woman (who may or may not have received an illegal abortion prior to being killed), anarchists, anti-semitic arsonists, and a secret cell of government types who operate as a sort of "star chamber", torturing information out of suspected terrorists (in a harrowing sequence, Benton runs afoul of them with terrifying results). Denton soon finds out there may have been a "Second Woman" who also visited the abortion doctor that day who is not on anyone's radar, who almost certainly murdered the dead woman, and he goes all out to find her before she kills again.
Denton is an interesting character, as an American author (pegged, despite his protestations, as a "horror" writer) with an interesting history (he was a sheriff in the west and killed men in gunfights, had a wife who committed suicide) who has come to live in and enjoy living in London at the end of the Victorian era to escape the nightmares of his past. The novel has a lot of historical information and Cameron seems to be well-versed in all sorts of trivia of the period such as the installation central heating and telephones, what cars were popular, the state of politics in London in 1900, all the sort of stuff that makes the material seem very realistic and well-researched, which definitely adds to my enjoyment of the material. The mystery itself is more a "where is this person?" than a true who-dunnit, although by the end of the book Denton makes a starling discovery that sort of comes out of nowhere (although there were clues for the astute reader) and reveals the motives of the murderer of the mysterious girl in his yard. Also, one of the continuing characters dies, without revealing more, in a very nerve-wracking scene that echoes present fears about bomb-toting terrorists. Denton mysteries do not necessarily have happy endings, and (as in previous books) Denton suffers perhaps even more than usual in his search for the truth, physically and mentally, solving this case.
While I did enjoy the first two novels in the series a bit more, and definitely recommend them before reading The Second Woman (otherwise too many characters will need more introduction than given), The Second Woman is a great historical mystery especially good if you like Victorian settings with a little more grit, blood and realism than Anne Perry's works. If you have read the first two, definitely take the time and effort to seek this one out even if it means ordering it off Amazon since it doesn't appear to be available through the usual sources in the USA.