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The Bedlam Detective (Sebastian Becker #2)

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  2,052 Ratings  ·  316 Reviews
Madmen see monsters – and monsters hide in plain sight

From a basement office in London’s notorious Bethlehem Hospital,Sebastian Becker investigates wealthy eccentrics whose dubious mental health may render them unable to manage their own affairs.His interview with rich landowner Sir Owain Lancaster, whose sanity has been in question since a disastrous scientific adventure
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 7th 2012 by Crown (first published January 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

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Tom Franklin
Feb 02, 2012 Tom Franklin rated it liked it
Gallagher writes an easy-to-read mystery, with characters interesting enough to propel the reader into his strange story.

The mystery involves the killing of two young girls in a seaside resort. There are long-time rumors of a terrible beast in the nearby woods, a pair of young women who survived a similar attack years before, and a potential madman who lives in the decaying grand manor house. There's more than a hint of the supernatural, McGuffins aplenty and 1920s London for a backdrop.

There wa
Feb 10, 2012 Laura rated it liked it
The subtitle is a bit confusing: this is a novel as much as it is a mystery (and this goes back to the question I've been asking for the past year or so - why are we using "a novel" as a subtitle? is there the risk we can't tell fact from fiction?).

There are two intertwined questions here, the first being "who killed the two little girls, and how is this related to the assaults on Grace and Evangeline years ago?" and "is Sir Owain insane?". Our hero is, of course, concerned that perhaps the answ
Feb 24, 2012 Erin rated it really liked it
I received this book as a goodreads giveaway. I have to say that when I started the book I thought it was a good read, nothing special, but about a third the way through I could not put it down. The Bedlam Detective has excellent details of the period and plenty of twists. Several days after finishing I still have bits of the story running through my head. All in all a great read that I would definitely recommend.
Nov 12, 2016 John rated it really liked it
Steve Gallagher has probably caused me more lost sleep than any other thriller writer -- I can remember reading, heavy-eyed, into the early hours to finish Valley of Lights, Nightmare, with Angel, Red, Red Robin and others -- so I'm not sure why I've let so long go by since last I read one of his novels.

It's 1912 and the "Bedlam detective," Sebastian Becker, is in the English Southwest to investigate the case of Sir Owain Lancaster, a one-time explorer who's fallen on hard times since he returne
I had never heard of Stephen Gallagher before seeing this as an upcoming release for 2012. Now I can't wait to see if his other work is as good as 'The Bedlam Detective'.

Sebastian Becker has taken something of a demotion, returning to London from America, so that he can find an acceptable situation for his son who has special needs. He works for Sir James Crichton-Browne investigating the mental stability of wealthy landowners in order to determine their ability to make sound judgments on their
Feb 06, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it
This is, in the parlance of its setting, a cracking good read. Set in 1912, it has a pleasantly dark cast throughout the whole story, giving the reader the impression of hunting madness alongside Sebastien in the Smoke. There's an authenticity to "The Bedlam Detective" that belies some of the more extreme plot points - the characters don't come off as modern people in fancy historical dress. From Sebastien's casual dismissal of native cultures to the imperial fancies of Sir Owain, the impression ...more
Nov 03, 2014 Emily rated it did not like it
Warning: contains spoilers.

Really not a good read by any means. Okay, I did like it enough to finish it, but now I wish I'd never picked it up. The book cover made it sound so interesting: murder, madmen, and the Amazon. Technically, all of those things were in the book, but they were not linked and could have meant anything. I actually kind of liked the character of Sir Owain the madman, especially when he did his little experiment on Sebastian, but the story of the book really had very little
Anne-Marie Lacy
Jul 23, 2012 Anne-Marie Lacy rated it really liked it
Happy Thursday! Annabelle here, trying to stay cool in this Southern heat. Actually, it's hot all over our fair nation, but I've got the very thing to send cold chills down your spine even if you read it out by the swimming pool. It's called The Bedlam Detective, by author Stephen Gallagher, and it was just published earlier this year.

Set in 1912, the novel introduces Sebastian Becker, a former Pinkerton detective who now works for London's notorious Bethlehem Hospital, an insane asylum which w
Mar 25, 2012 Mysterytribune rated it it was amazing
Stephen Gallagher is the English writer of several novels and television scripts, including for the BBC television series Doctor Who for which he wrote two serials, Warriors' Gate (1981) and Terminus (1983). He is also very active in crime fiction area and The Bedlam Detective is his latest work.

A Brief Summary:

From a basement office in London’s notorious Bethlehem Hospital, Sebastian Becker investigates wealthy eccentrics whose dubious mental health may render them unable to manage their own af
Aug 11, 2012 John rated it really liked it
I very much enjoyed this novel! The characters drew me in, the settings and atmosphere were compelling and effective, the pace and tension were well-handled. It's an entertaining and powerful exploration of the relationship between perception and reality. Just about everything in this book was masterfully done - and I now have a new author to get into. I can't wait to read the rest of his work!

But there's the ending...

The challenge with any mystery story is to make the ending a surprise - but it
Adriane Devries
May 03, 2012 Adriane Devries rated it liked it
A tidy, inoffensive mystery, The Bedlam Detective is as well-written as they come. The sentences had correct punctuation, the plot flowed, and everything wrapped up nicely in the end. If I had written it, I would no doubt be immensely proud and brag to all my friends. However, when I think back on it, I really would have loved it, not merely liked, if the characters had developed more: Sebastian, the American protagonist living in England as an investigator of wealthy eccentrics in questionable ...more
Jul 06, 2012 Valentina rated it really liked it
Historical fictions taking place in the Victorian era are one my favorite kinds of books, and this one certainly did not disappoint. It is rich with period detail and with the je ne sais quoi that makes past ages seem so appealing.
Sebastian Becker, the protagonist, is an interesting man. He carries the whole book on his shoulders effortlessly, guiding the reader on through the different chapters without ever becoming dull or predictable. He comes through as a real person, with his issues, but al
Jan 16, 2015 Mithrandir rated it really liked it
I loves me some historical murder mysteries, and The Bedlam Detective was no exception. The author did an amazing job of painting a vivid scene of early 20th century London, while at the same time weaving a solid tale of intrigue.

I tend to get a little hesitant every time I open up a murder mystery, because authors have the daunting task of creating a story that unravels slowly and keeps the reader guessing until the end, but also adding in enough clues so that when the story finally ends and th
Feb 25, 2013 Jodi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title is a misnomer as Bedlam has little to do with it. Sebastian Becker is a former Pinkerton detective in the States now in London as the Visitor in Lunacy. He visits people declared incompetent to see if that is accurate. He then reports back to the home office. From a non-medical perspective. When he arrives to investigate Sir Owain, he discovers the town up in arms with two preteen girls missing. The search has a bad end with the bodies found on Sir Owain's property. It isn't the first ...more
Feb 28, 2012 Barbara rated it liked it
I got this one as a proof through a Good Reads giveaway. It seemed right up my alley. I did enjoy the book and I may read the final version just to see if some holes could be filled or some things tied together better. The main character, Sebastian Becker, I liked and could see him as a continual character in a series. I was surprised about what happened to his wife, and thought that maybe that was because Sebastian and Evangeline were going to end up romantically involved. However there was a ...more
Jul 06, 2012 Kate rated it really liked it
Despite the incredibly annoying and entirely unnecessary head-hopping, and the equally unnecessary "autism-spectrum genius with social issues" asides, I really enjoyed this book. The setting was meticulously researched and you immediately felt yourself transported to period England. The use of a fairly nonstandard detective was delightful, bringing us into an investigation through the lens of madness rather than crime, and the action kept moving even though this wasn't exactly a slam-bang ...more
Mar 05, 2012 Karen rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries
To be honest, I really just wanted this book to be longer. I thought the characters were really enjoyable and the mystery was interesting. And the whole issue of what happened on the trip to the Amazon was intriguing as well. Everything in the book was really well done, but I felt they could all have been developed more or maybe just expanded upon. And while the ending was good and made sense, it seemed like it sprang out of nowhere. The book rather reminded me of Wilkie Collins' Woman in White ...more
Tanya Eby
Jun 06, 2012 Tanya Eby rated it liked it
Shelves: audio-version
Gah!! I wanted to LOVE this book, but I didn't. There are so many missed opportunities! It's got good bones though (as in the structure of the piece, not the murders). There's a great premise, good characters, but it feels like we only get introduced to everyone. This feels more like a prequel to a series than a fully realized novel. There are a few major plot points that are just skimmed over that it feels like a missed opportunity to breathe real depth and humanity into the story. I like the ...more
Peri Kinder
Feb 12, 2013 Peri Kinder rated it liked it
Sebastian Becker is dealing with some pretty whacked characters. As an investigator for the Department of Lunacy (how can I get a job there?!??!) Sebastian determines the sanity of wealthy people to decide if they're capable of administering their affairs. Set in the early 1900s in England, Becker meets a doozy of a client--a man who is convinced large monsters destroyed his family. (This was before Big Banks and Corporate America--so a different large monster.)

Interesting story but it sure seem
Feb 26, 2012 Steve rated it really liked it
Well written period piece. Good multiple plot lines. Resolution on all fronts was well tied together. This was a short book, but it read like a longer novel. Not because it seemed to drag on, but because each sentence was well written and conveyed a lot of visual information without being verbose. I won this book in the Goodreads giveaway but have in no way been compensated for this review.
Jan 27, 2014 exncgal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this story - it was reminiscent of the Thomas Pitt mysteries by Anne Perry, with a touch of Agatha Christie's travel mysteries, and a dash of the supernatural, and a smidgen of romance... sounds kind of like a random mixture, but it worked well together. The plot was suspenseful without getting too bogged down in any one story thread, and there were quite a few unsuspected twists along the way. I am not sure whether this is (or will be) part of a series, but I hope so.
Feb 21, 2012 Brie rated it it was amazing
I have to say, this was one of the best mystery novels I have read in recent months!

The historical time period is well represented, the characters well fleshed out, and the way the author writes the story is engaging. I was glad to have picked it up and read it.

I definitely recommend it to people who enjoy novels set in the early 20th century and love mysteries as well.
Mar 13, 2012 Connie rated it really liked it
I enjoyed it. had it been an option i would have given this a 3.5 and without spoilage it is impossible to say why this intriguing, character driven psychological mystery did not rate a higher score. That said, should Gallagher turn this into a series i will definitely be purchasing it.
Nov 15, 2016 Kathy rated it really liked it
Do not pick up this book if you have things you must do. It is 306 pages that demand immediate reading once started. This author has a wonderful imagination, and I will now have to seek out his other books though I normally avoid "thriller" genre.
If you are picking up after The Kingdom of Bones, the Becker family has moved back to England and living in modest housing in Southwark. Elisabeth is working at a charitable hospital for children and Sebastian, working for the Crown, is assigned to exa
Nov 15, 2016 Katie rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Sebastian Becker is en route to investigate a wealthy eccentric named Sir Owain, but when he arrives in town, he finds that two young girls have recently been murdered. When Sebastian learns that other children in town have also gone missing and been murdered, Sebastian delves into the case with the town's own detective, Stephen Reed. Their separate cases, it seems, may actually be linked more closely than they had imagined.
The Bedlam Detective was an enjoyable and quick read. I had not realized
Oscar Ortiz
Nov 12, 2016 Oscar Ortiz rated it it was amazing
This book is my re-introduction to fiction reading. Growing up I was a big fan of Jules Verne, Mark Twain, Alexander Dumas, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Lou Carrigan, Alfred Hitchcock and a few others. Through the years my taste changed from fiction into non-fiction. Sporadically I read a few stories here and there, but eventually I just convinced myself that all fiction was at most a big waste of my time. Now on my 50's I felt a sudden urge to read a real good story. I started eagerly looking for ...more
Michelle Lancaster
By Stephen Gallagher
Random House, 306 pgs
Submitted by Random House
Rating: 2.75

Britain, 1912, anxiety and paranoia are running high in the build-up to World War I. Arnmouth is a small coastal town where children have a tendency to periodically turn up missing and/or dead. Our hero is Sebastian Becker, Special Investigator to the Lord Chancellor's Visitor in Lunacy. Yep, that's right, Visitor in Lunacy, which makes it sound as if Becker himself is the loon, he just doesn't stay lo
Vernell Schutte
Nov 10, 2016 Vernell Schutte rated it really liked it
Really liked this book. Loved the twist at the end!!
Ryan G
Jun 16, 2013 Ryan G rated it liked it
I'm not sure I would ever want to put myself into Sebastian Becker's shoes. He has recently moved back to England, a move that has left his family poorer than they had been in the States. He no longer does official police work, or even the work he did for the Pinkerton Agency. Instead he is working for the Masters of Lunacy, who job it is to decide if a peer is sane enough to run his own estate, or have it controlled by the crown. It doesn't pay near enough to keep his family in the life style ...more
The Bedlam Detective
Stephen Gallagher

Historical Novel Society, Editors' Choice
Publishers Weekly, starred review
Kirkus, starred review

I have been on a reading binge of mysteries set in the 19th century ever since I read Caleb Carr’s “The Alienist.” Fans of Carr, or of Alex Grecian, David Morrell, or Lindsay Faye should definitely try this novel.

Like “The Alienist,” “The Bedlam Detective” deals with crime and madness. Since the study psychiatry, psychology and forensic science is in its infancy, t
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Read It Forward: * THE BEDLAM DETECTIVE by Stephen Gallagher 1 27 Mar 05, 2012 02:27PM  
  • The Solitary House
  • The Floating Lady Murder
  • Instruments of Darkness (Crowther and Westerman, #1)
  • The Hellfire Conspiracy (Barker & Llewelyn, #4)
  • Seven for a Secret (Timothy Wilde, #2)
  • The Laws of Murder (Charles Lenox Mysteries, #8)
  • The Black Country (Scotland Yard's Murder Squad, #2)
  • The Dead Shall Not Rest (Dr. Thomas Silkstone #2)
  • What Alice Knew: A Most Curious Tale of Henry James & Jack the Ripper
  • Murder on Marble Row (Gaslight Mystery, #6)
  • The Rhetoric of Death
  • The Inspector's Daughter (Rose McQuinn, #1)
  • Cardington Crescent (Charlotte & Thomas Pitt, #8)
  • Secret of the White Rose (Simon Ziele, #3)
  • The Frightened Man (Denton, #1)
  • The Truth of All Things
  • The Butchered Man (Northminster Mysteries, #1)
Also wrote two novelizations of his Doctor Who under the pseudonym John Lydecker.

** Photo by Lisa Bowerman **
More about Stephen Gallagher...

Other Books in the Series

Sebastian Becker (2 books)
  • The Kingdom of Bones (Sebastian Becker, #1)

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“The man waxed his mustache. In Sebastian's book, that was never a good sign.” 4 likes
“Sebastian tried not to look too far ahead. Ambition was a young man's game. Theses days he was more concerned with the continuing survival and security of those he loved. It was no longer so much a matter of dreaming how high he might climb, as of always keeping in mind how far they might fall.” 0 likes
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