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Old Scores

(Barker & Llewelyn #9)

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,139 ratings  ·  146 reviews
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 displ
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by Minotaur Books
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  1,139 ratings  ·  146 reviews

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Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

Can I start with how much I love these covers? Each is a work of art with shadowy figures, unmistakably Victorian, shrouded in foggy gaslight. The tone is set. You know you’re in for a clever, atmospheric mystery full of colourful characters.

It’s 1890 & at the home of Cyrus Barker, staff are getting ready for a special visitor. Barker is hosting a Japanese delegation who are in London to open an embassy. The ambassador is a soft spoken, gentle man who appreciates Barker’s garden. Howeve
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Downward slide continues for this series, starting with Hell Bay, which was mostly held aloft by my previous enthusiasm for the earlier books. If you are new to this series also, do NOT start with this one--since facts are doled out VERY sparingly to an almost teasing degree in these books (is it the first time we've actually seen Barker's mutilated eye described in detail? I think it might be)--you'll have to go back to the first book, because the loquacious narrator is very sparse on details f ...more
John Bohnert
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another interesting case for Barker and Llewelyn in Victorian London.
I've now read all nine novels in this series.
I really enjoyed that this book was titled Old Scores as it was indeed a book about settling old scores. Cyrus Barker was an enigma of a man and in this installment readers will learn more about Cyrus’s history and how his past and present collide in a drastic way. In addition, there is also a nice mystery, character growth, a little bit of romance, and a surprise ending to keep you entertained.

This series, Barker & Llewelyn, is set in Victorian London during the late eighteen-hundreds. Barker a
First Sentence: I suppose it all began with the garden.

A delegation of Japanese diplomats is in London to discuss opening an embassy. Enquiry Agent Cyrus Barker, who lived in Japan, is asked to show the gentlemen his garden. When Ambassador Toda is murdered later that night, and Barker found across the street, he is arrested, interrogated, and finally released. Scotland Yard isn’t convinced of his innocence, but the new Japanese ambassador implores Barker and Llewelyn to find the real killer.

Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was going to give this book the customary 4 stars I gave to the others in the series, but I realized that I really, really liked the book - they are getting better and better. I love the characters and the way they are ripening and shaping, 5 stars. I highly recommend this historical mystery series.
Oct 24, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars for me - not my favorite book of the series
I continue to enjoy the relationship between Barker & Llewelyn and their household. We are signaled early on that there are dark and difficult buried events of the past that will feature in the main action simply by Llewelyn's reading of Barker's body language when he greets the Japanese delegates that arrive to view Barker's garden. Not long after this visit one member of the delegation is killed.
We learn a thing or two about Japan along with
Susan in NC
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars - I love this series, which seems better with each outing. In this case we learn more about the dour and mysterious Cyrus Barker’s past as he and assistant Thomas Llewelyn try to track down the assassin of the Japanese ambassador.

The mystery was very interesting and I was pleased to learn more about Japan and it’s history. I look forward to the next in the series. Recommended to fans of historical mysteries with a soupçon of humor!
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Old Scores by Will Thomas is book #9 in the Barker and Llewelyn series brings the past back to haunt Cyrus Barker as his time in the Orient shadows a murder in his own backyard. But is Barker's time in Japan a reason to turn to him or a reason for Barker to commit murder.

"...I suppose it all began with the garden. Cyrus Barker's garden, I mean. It was a particularly good year for some reason. Everything came together perfectly. The gardeners were working, hard-pressed to keep the growth from get
Sally Schmidt
Mar 07, 2018 rated it liked it
This was not my favorite book of the Barker and Llewelyn series. The plot was disjointed and most of the ink was spent on explanations of Japanese culture and contemporary (for the setting of the book) politics. It was certainly an interesting period in history, but if you took all those descriptions out of the book, there wouldn't be anything left. If you're looking for a light fluffy read, this isn't awful, but there's not much mystery or actual detective work to speak of.

Orientalism, while r
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it
3 & 1/2 stars really. If you enjoy the pace of Jane Austin and some really spot on History lessons, mixed with pre- Sherlock Holmes type detective work, this series is for you.
I find myself lost in 1890’s London and the formality of the dress and behavior both good and bad. Plus the Japanese visit was a grand bit of entertainment and education.
Mar 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
A Japanese diplomat has been murdered and, given his recent contact with him, as well as his proximity when the crime occurred, Cyrus Barker is the prime suspect. Taken under custody and roughly treated, he ends up being – oddly – released through the influence of his loyal assistant, Thomas Llewelyn. However, the mystery remains and the ambassador’s replacement hires Barker’s services to find out who is the real murderer. Still, it is no easy task and Barker and Llewelyn will need all their wit ...more
Patrick Read
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
It’s 1890 and things are becoming modernized when a Japanese delegation, in England to form a new embassy, arrive to visit Barker’s own Japanese garden along with the new ambassador. The team he arrives with are varied, and Llewelyn fancies that Barker recognizes one of the men.

When the ambassador is shot that same evening, Barker is found across the street and immediately arrested, although that doesn’t last long. Despite the Foreign Branch subjecting him to a more than necessary interrogation,
Judy Lesley
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thank you to Minotaur Books, St. Martin Press for a review copy of this novel.

Oh, how lovely it was to be back in London spending time with Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn as they tackle the problem of the murdered Japanese Ambassador. The date is 1891 and there is a delegation of Japanese officials sent by the Emperor to set up an Ambassador's residence and offices in London. Japan had been under American influences for many years, but now they want to begin thinking globally. So what all does
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
A delegation of Japanese diplomats arrive in London. Kew Gardens knows that Cyrus Barker has the best Japanese garden in all of London, so they ask if the new arrivals can view it. When the contingent arrives, Thomas Llewellyn, Barker's assistant, notices his boss' reaction to one of the members of the group. That night, one of the diplomats is assassinated and Barker is arrested after being caught on scene with a revolver containing a spent shell. However, Thomas and Barker's attorney are able ...more
John Campbell
Dec 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Whether one reads for the destination or the journey, Will Thomas delivers. Personally, I try to linger in these books. The interesting and relevant details never invade. The touches of humor add charm, encouraging a bond between the reader and the POV character, Thomas Llewelyn. Cyrus Barker becomes our mentor. In these stressful times, entertainment like this uplifts. Be it Mac, Etienne, or Harm, all of the regular characters contribute to the pleasure.
The mystery presented in Old Scores is w
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Engaging, intelligent mystery with insight into the ancient Japenese culture. Llewelyn's sardonic wit is a welcome bonus to these intense stories. It was also enlightening to get some of Barker's background. The series simply gets better with each successive story. The characters are meaty and the mysteries are thrilling.

Chapter 14, page 119 - "Each night, Cyrus Barker falls asleep in this manner: he lays his head on the pillow, he closes his eyes, he relaxes his body, and within sixty seconds,
Joe Santoro
It was nice to see the series get back to its roots... after the less successful variations on the theme, we get back to exploring the different cultures of the time a murder at a time. This time, Japan sends a delegation to England for trade and arms, and Barker gets hip deep in things as usual.

I'm not sure if it's just because it's the 9th book in the series, or if Thomas is losing steam, but this one just wasn't as enjoyable as the previous ones. We do get a lot more of Barker's back story,
Bill Kelly
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Series continues to decline for me, although Thomas returns Barker & Llewelyn to the London milieu that provides them with the opportunity to be interesting. HELL BAY, the previous entry, was a disaster as these two characters, one a mostly withdrawn enigma and the other a very self-conscious and insecure worry wort did not shine in the island bound claustrophobic environment Thomas dropped them into. Interesting Japanese background history in this one, but very little suspense: the villain is t ...more
Was a little disappointed with this one. It lacked the snappy comments and one-liners I've come to expect from the series.

The plot was interesting, with the Japanese ambassador found murdered and Cyrus Barker the chief suspect, who is then hired by the new ambassador to discover who murdered his predecessor.

A good, workmanlike addition to the series, but lacked, for me, the spark that set most of the others apart.
Margaret Higgins
i love this series! only one left. i hope mr thomas continues this series with the same humor and snappy writing
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Nero Wolfe and gas-light era London mysteries
Probably more of a 3.5 , but I am rounding up for enjoyability! For someone like me who is a professed Sherlock Holmes hater, it is ironic that I would find this series so appealing, except that the two main protagonists bounce off each other in a far more realistic and believable manner: Barker is not so obfuscatory and arrogant while Llewelyn is brighter and much funnier than plodding old Watson!
In this particular outing, the similarities between the Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin series become esp
Lisa Kucharski
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Love this series, and got this book as soon as I could from my library. After the sensational Ripper story the mystery here returns to the roots of Barker’s history and history of the time crossing paths and murder again.

Japan is working on getting an embassy in England and the ambassador is murdered, the day after he sees Barker’s garden. Barker is the prime suspect but as usual, he turns the table and becomes the better detective than special branch or the special branch.

It’s a story where la
Oct 20, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

I hate picking up a series midway. I didn’t realize Old Scores was a series until chapter 3 but by then I was hooked and didn’t want to put the story down. This book makes a great stand alone, there was only a few times that a person was mentioned who I didn’t know or wasn’t given a good background on. I’m interested in starting the series from the beginning now. I do think the language was a little off for the time period the book was set in. For example a character said are you seriou
Readers will learn more about mysterious private enquiry agent Cyrus Barker when he's hired to investigate the murder of the Japanese ambassador, a murder that police are sure Barker committed. He was, after all, found outside the house where the victim was staying, with one bullet missing from his recently fired gun. The Japanese have just sent an ill-assorted group of dignitaries and their body guards to open an embassy and to purchase British goods, and one of the things the ambassador wants ...more
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thomas continues his string of great Barker & Llewellyn stories with Old Scores.

We get some insight into Barker’s past here as the two investigate the murder of the first Japanese ambassador to England. But first, Barker must clear himself of being the killer. There are plenty of other twists and turns here, but not so many that you can’t keep track of events.

As always, Thomas tells a terrific tale that brings the late 19th century to life.

The next book in this fine series is already on my ‘To R
Daniella Bernett
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A cerebral puzzle that will appeal to mystery fans everywhere. Barker and Llewelyn come from different backgrounds, but these different perspectives and their interactions make for a lively and entertaining story.
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love this series! The characters are so well developed and the intrigue grows with each book. Recommend whole heartedly!
Aug 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Barker is senior partner to Llewellyn. One of the characters has a senior moment but there aren't many senior citizens in the book. Good scene with a senior prank. ...more
Mar 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Seemed a bit scattered (& not well proofread). Not as good as previous books.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Will Thomas, born 1958 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, is a novelist who writes a Victorian mystery series featuring Cyrus Barker, a Scottish detective or "private enquiry agent," and his Welsh assistant, Thomas Llewelyn. The Barker/Llewelyn novels are set in the 1880s and o

Other books in the series

Barker & Llewelyn (1 - 10 of 13 books)
  • Some Danger Involved (Barker & Llewelyn, #1)
  • To Kingdom Come (Barker & Llewelyn, #2)
  • The Limehouse Text (Barker & Llewelyn, #3)
  • The Hellfire Conspiracy (Barker & Llewelyn, #4)
  • The Black Hand (Barker & Llewelyn, #5)
  • Fatal Enquiry (Barker & Llewelyn, #6)
  • Anatomy of Evil (Barker & Llewelyn, #7)
  • Hell Bay (Barker & Llewelyn, #8)
  • Blood Is Blood (Barker & Llewelyn, #10)
  • Lethal Pursuit (Barker & Llewelyn, #11)

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