Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem
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Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  714 ratings  ·  74 reviews
Dan Leno, the great music hall comedian, was known in his lifetime as 'the funniest man on earth'. So how could he have been involved in one of the most curious episodes in London's history when, in a short period during the autumn of 1880, a series of murders was attributed to the mysterious 'Limehouse Golem'?





In Peter Ackroyd's novel the world of late-Victorian music hall...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published June 5th 1995 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1994)
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Community Reviews

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Shovelmonkey1
Feb 29, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: for people with some down the drains
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: Peter Ackroyds back catalogue
Cor Blimey, Guvn'r. Well that was a right old to do. Set in Victorian London on the banks of the good old shake and shiver, the narrow field o' wheat and the bawdy houses and music halls this jackanory will have you all in a lather - oh what a palaver. The great wen is all a-quiver for there is a killer on the street. It's not safe for a respectable ocean pearl like m'self to be out after dark, oh no. The Limehouse Golem is abroad and I'm not talking about the Costa.

Murder most horrid is being...more
Nancy Oakes
Mar 08, 2008 Nancy Oakes rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers of victorian mysteries; readers of this author
Recommended to Nancy by: amazon
I have to say that this is one of the finer Victorian mysteries I've read and it kept me on the edge of the chair until the end. Once in a while I would get this idea that something is dreadfully wrong here, but couldn't quite put my finger on it. However, the true beauty of this novel is the atmosphere -- London during the Victorian period -- the darkness tends to overwhelm you while you read it. It is quite good (I love Ackroyd's works) and one in which the true mystery aficionado will not be...more
Adam
I thought this was more a tragedy than a mystery until the ending, and then I realized that I knew nothing. Grotesque atmosphere, filled with great portrayals of historical figures, a horrifying murderer, music hall, Karl Marx, George Gissing’s prophetic musings on Babbage’s Difference Engine, illusions, cross dressing, and wonderful and sometimes creepy descriptions of Victorian England, this is a fascinating if sometimes cold book(and dark and difficult). The ending is haunting if not exactly...more
Philip
Dan Leno And The Limehouse Golem is quite simply a masterpiece. Every aspect of the novel is remarkable. It’s a whodunit, though it suggests a couple of credible suspects right at the start. It even convicts its central character to death by hanging before we have even got to know her. Clearly things are not going to be obvious. The novel is also a study in character, especially that of its central actor, Lambeth Marsh Lizzie, later Mrs Elizabeth Cree. It’s also an evocation of London in the lat...more
Max Karpovets
Для мене це найкращий роман Пітера Акройда. Густа, насичена вікторіанськими мазками проза із прекрасним постмодерним перетворенням класичного юдейського-готичного міфу про голома - так би я назвав цей текст. Окрім того, тут присутні фірмові атрибути ерудиції Акройда: улюблений Лондон, містика, естетизм, врешті домислення історії. Одним словом, це такий вишуканий історичний вікторіанський нуар для обох вагових категорій: для любителів трилерів та Густава Майрінка. До того ж, на сторінках з*являют...more
Martha
Scrumptious! One of the best treatments that I have ever read of the fearful magic involved in acting and overall the theatrical life. - To act is to embody other creatures; one's whole life becomes a 'monypolylogue'. Elizabeth's life in the music halls with Dan Leno were vividly described and I loved all the bits of the old turns we got to read. Also, the Golem theme was fun - technology and abstract thought in general are envisioned as a kind of Golem feeding on the human souls of the city.

De...more
Chris
I love Peter Ackroyd, I really do.

Books like this are part of the reason why. Making use of the famous figures of Dan Leno (no, not Jay Leno), Gissing, and Marx among others, Ackroyd weaves a mystery unlike very few.


The story is told though different voices and different prespectives, and the ground always shifts slightly for the reader. And that is the really important thing about Ackroyd, he trusts the reader. He does not treat the reader like an idiot, does not talk down, and inspires curious...more
Perry Whitford
Peter Ackroyd has a tried and trusted method of writing where he researches a subject intimately, be it an epoch of history or a figure that enriched it, writes a factual book from his research, such as a history or a biography, then indulges his imagination by writing a fiction using the same material but twisting it, conjoining it, whilst adding to it from his previous stock of knowledge and anecdote.
His commonest subjects are London and the Victorian era, both of which form the wellspring fo...more
Diane
May 25, 2008 Diane rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: British history/Victoriana, entertainment, social reform, murder mysteries
This book is awesome. I've read many of Ackroyd's works and they can be uneven, but the incredible cross-sections of Victorian England (as seen through the metaphor of those studying in the British Library reading room) with the world of music hall entertainment and a good old fashioned murder mystery (not to mention a fantastic use of nonlinear, "multimedia" storytelling) works beautifully. This is one of those books where saying just the wrong thing reveals it all, so I'll leave this spoiler-f...more
Dan Pierce
Slightly overwritten (use of 10 words when 2 will do) but a very good story. Very atmospheric. Especially interesting to me for it's depiction of Victorian era Limehouse because it's where I live now.
Caroline Selwyn-jones
l always find Peter Ackroyd worth reading, and this one is both typical and surprising. It's set in London in the latter part of the nineteenth century, and mixes a few historical figures with fictional characters. It can be read as crime fiction, but the setting is another source of enjoyment, and the shifting narrative perspective - first person, diary, court report - adds a "smoke and mirrors" appearance of reality in keeping with the world of music hall it presents. The denouement may come a...more
Sharon
Mar 11, 2008 Sharon marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended by Ed.
Jemma
Nov 11, 2013 Jemma rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
Set in London in the 1880s, the novel starts with Elizabeth Cree being hanged for the murder of her husband. Throughout the story, we learn what tragic events led towards the demise of Elizabeth and Mr. Cree. One main piece of evidence is that a journal is found, written by John Cree, saying "It was a fine bright morning and I could feel a murder coming on".

We are shown how Elizabeth - or Lizzie of Lambeth Marsh as she was known when she was younger - is dragged up from poverty through fame, to...more
Mel
I enjoyed this novel quite a bit. It reminded me that I do enjoy Ackroyd as an author, and thought that the writing style of this was much more accessible than the previous ones of his I've read. However, it also remined me why I don't read many mystery novels as I found the twist of this one rather obvious from half way through and as such was neither surprised nor shocked by the ending. It also reminded me the trouble with modern authors writing about the Victorian period, as they all seem to...more
Jonathan
Peter Ackroyd is without doubt a writer influenced by the classics of Victorian Literature. However, this is not a novel that tries to outrageously mimic such literature. It is not true to say that this novel doesn't ape such works at all, but it still manages to display a unique voice from the writer.
It is clear that here is an author with a real love of literature and language. Some may find it all very old fashioned, but I actually enjoyed the way it felt like I was reading a piece by writ...more
Paula
This is an insanely boring monologue of Victorian era colloquialisms and literary commentary on specific works of the age without any modern context (so if you aren't intimately familiar with 1800s London lingo, you're outta luck) throw in an unrelated story of the first calculator as some sort of social metaphor that I don't even pretend to understand and Karl Marx- who as far as I can tell just had an unnecessary, completely unrelated cameo in what could have otherwise been a very good murder...more
Zarinrupawalla
This is a crime fiction written by Peter Ackroyd. The interesting part about this crime novel is that the story is set between the lives of famous characters like Dan Leno, Karl Marx, George Gissing, Thomas De Quincey, Charles Babbage. Its almost like a biography of their lives with the mystery interleaved within. The stories of these great names is used to build a story with the murderer interacting with all of them acting as the narrator of the play.
The details of the lives of these characters...more
Mark
The seedier side of London in late nineteenth century England is host to a serial killer like Jack the Ripper known as the Limehouse golem (a Jewish animated creature of mud). His murders are horrific - corpses are mutilated and dismembered - and his methods inscrutable for he leaves crime scenes with little physical evidence for the police. Prostitutes are his first victims and no one authority seems to blink a shocked eye until an entire tailor's family, save for one young woman, are brutally...more
Estibaliz79
A vuelta con los títulos y las traducciones, tengo que decir que, en cierta forma, en este caso el título en español ("Dan Leno, el Golem y el Music Hall") tiene más magia, pero el original da una mejor idea de lo que nos encontramos entre las páginas de este libro.

Una buena novela negra de ambientación histórica, en la que el Londres Victoriano se convierte en verdadero protagonista; el autor sabe transmitir la atmósfera de la época al tiempo que nos relata una historia de crímenes con ciertos...more
Ed
I am re-reading one of my favorite novels from the mid-1990s, The Trial of Elizabeth Cree, Written by one of England's most respected and prolific contemporary authors, Peter Ackroyd. Ackroyd is the author of what most consider the definitive (and, at over 1,000 pp, the longest), Charles Dickens biograpy, and critically well-received bios of T.S., Eliott and Shakespeare. I really enjiyed his compmrehensive biography of Thomas More -- it vividly brought to life the colors, sounds and excitement o...more
Durdles
Peter Ackroyd mines his encyclopaedic knowledge of the seedier side of Victorian London to combine genuine characters of the music halls, a series of gruesome murders and Karl Marx, as well as the birth of Charlie Chaplin. It's hard to tell where the genuine events end and the novel begins. Was George Gissing married to an alcoholic prostitute? Did Dan Leno unwittingly save Charlie Chaplin's mother's life? The notorious Red Barn and Marr family murders, which were perhaps the first "famous" murd...more
K. Flynn


The beginning of the book is rather off-putting. I am glad that I did stick with it; it turned out to be quite interesting. I live in Wapping which is near Limehouse and was intrigued by the mention of streets and places that existed in Victorian times. I really want to know if and where these places existed. (St. Anne's Church and the pyramid do exist. i've seen the pyramid from outside the gates.) Ackroyd should take a note from George McDonald Fraser the author of the Flashman series of hist...more
David Hallard
Demand is high for the London sublime, and having channelled it with such aplomb in the past, one wondered whether the Fleet Street polymath could return to the same turf without losing face.

The weighting of its narratives, its historical anchors, its ration of gore and the resonance of its language indicate a simulacrum of the highest quality. The quote from Wilde (inserted as a footnote to Ackroyd's own work), that 'Truth is independent of facts always, inventing or selecting them at pleasure...more
Karen
I checked out this book from our regional digital library simply because it was available and the description sounded interesting. If it was possible, I would have given it a 3.5 stars because of its compelling portrayal of the underbelly of Victorian London. But I had it figured out well before the end.
Patti
This is an amazing book! Very well written and engaging from the first pages. I learned about some new historical figures such as Dan Leno and George Glissing. I am usually good at guessing what is going to happen in books and I was taken by surprise a couple of times...always a good thing!

I learned more about the wretched poverty of Victorian era Londoners. Since many in our own country & time seem intent of taking away the right to organize for decent wages and working conditions and since...more
Sarah
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Simon
A woman accused of poisoning her husband is condemmed to be hung and murderer is a loose in London, his crimes so horrible that he is given the name the Limehouse golem. Tracking back through the years we are introduced to Elizabeth Cree, the poisoner to be as she ascends from sail maker's assistant to music hall star alongside the great Dan Leno while in parallel we read the dairy of the murderer and follow the interaction of those on the sidelines with the main narrative, including Karl Marx a...more
Josephine
Not a straightforward narrative--it begins at the end, loops around to the beginning and alternates perspective until Ackroyd reaches what is ostensibly the middle of the mystery...at the end of his book. But by then you've figured out whodunit anyway, although this isn't, strictly speaking, that kind of mystery anyway.

Ackroyd switches from third person omniscient to first person limited to trial transcript to diary and back again with a speed that would make all but the most experienced readers...more
Liz
Set in mid nineteenth century London, this serial killer mystery can't seem to decide what it wants to be. While I had not figured out the "mystery" before it was revealed, the writing was not compelling, and I found that I didn't care -- about the mystery itself or any of the characters for that matter. The author was able to weave real-life literary figures into the story, but at times this seemed more contrived than particularly useful to the story. Most of the fictional characters were someh...more
Kathy  Petersen
Actually, three and one-half stars. I didn't much care for this book in the beginning, but I do not give up easily. In this case it was worth the effort.

Ackroyd employs an interesting and at first bewildering variety of styles, giving most of his characters his or her own voice and perspective. Initially a tattered patchwork held together by a place (and Ackroyd's powerful descriptions of the 19th century London cityscapes), the story pieces do weave themselves into a discernible whole. I was e...more
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16881
Peter Ackroyd CBE is an English novelist and biographer with a particular interest in the history and culture of London.

Peter Ackroyd's mother worked in the personnel department of an engineering firm, his father having left the family home when Ackroyd was a baby. He was reading newspapers by the age of 5 and, at 9, wrote a play about Guy Fawkes. Reputedly, he first realized he was gay at the age...more
More about Peter Ackroyd...
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