Karen Charlton writes historical crime fiction, set in Regency England.
Her Detective Lavender Mysteries, published by Thomas & Mercer, are the fictional adventures of Stephen Lavender, who was a real-life Principal Officer with the Bow Street Police Office in London.
By the early 19th century, Principal officers had a variety of different and important roles although they were still nicknamed ‘Bow Street Runners’ as if they were messenger boys. Apart from supporting their colleagues solve crime in the capital, they were often sent out to help magistrates in the provinces with difficult cases. They also took part in undercover work in periods of insurrection, for example, during the Luddite riots in the Midlands and were available to hire by wealthy landowners.
They were Britain’s earliest private detectives and were famous throughout London. They were the only policemen allowed into Buckingham House (the forerunner of the palace) and did security work for the Bank of England. On some occasions, they were even sent abroad to help with crimes and criminals who had spilled out over our borders onto the continent.
Through her research, Karen has come across dozens of their cases reported in the newspapers of the time. She frequently use them as the basis for the plots of her novels.
‘Catching the Eagle’, her debut novel, is the true story of her notorious ancestor, Jamie Charlton, who was convicted back in 1810 of Northumberland’s biggest robbery. To explain how she discovered this gaol-bird in the family tree, she wrote her nonfiction genealogy book, ‘Seeking Our Eagle.’ It’s a ‘how-we-did-it’ rather than a ‘whodunit?’