No one writes like Charles Dickens these days, but D.J. Taylor comes awfully close with his novel Kept: A Victorian Mystery. Full of period detail and atmosphere, Taylor’s story – which ranges from the grimy, fog-choked streets of 1860′s London to the wild expanses of the Scottish Highlands and Canadian tundra – explores the unseemly labyrinth of secrets, desires, and crime that lay just below the genteel surface of the Victorian era. A mentally unstable widow, an eccentric naturalist, a lawyer with a scandalous past, an inquisitive young kitchen maid, and a cunning debt collector are some of the colorful characters connected by a web of obsession, blackmail, and theft and brought vividly to life by Taylor’s evocative descriptions of 19th century life. You can almost smell the smoke from the coal fires and feel the rain pattering upon your head as you immerse yourself in every page of Kept.