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The Last Days of Newgate (A Pyke Mystery #1)

3.47  ·  Rating Details  ·  346 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
A story of high intrigue and low politics, of brutal murder and cunning conspiracies, set against the backdrop of a fascinating period in British history and introducing an ingenious, pragmatic and unforgettable hero.

St Giles, London, 1829: three people have been brutally murdered and the city simmers with anger and political unrest. Pyke, sometime Bow Street Runner, somet
Paperback, 400 pages
Published April 12th 2011 by Phoenix (first published 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 941)
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Aug 19, 2007 Jam rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people who like historical mysteries
Shelves: notworthit
The main problem I had with this book was not the fact the protagonist was unlikeable, although he is. Pyke is shown as, not just described as, hard, cruel, vicious. We're shown that he treats people (women) appallingly on more than one occasion. That's fine, that's not necessarily a bad thing in a protagonist.

The problem is the inconsistencies. One moment, it's clear that he and the author knows that he's not likeable, that he's meant to be an antihero. The next, his actions are excused or over
Oct 22, 2010 edifanob rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-books, 2010-reads
A cracking good read! I'm glad that there are more books in the series.
My favorite town: London, the year: 1829, the main character: PYKE, a guy with rough edges, the story. full of intrigue
That is the kind of historical fiction I like.
I must admit that I liked Pyke more than other readers.

My full review over at Edi's Book Lighthouse.

The Last Days Of Newgate has been a more than satisfying read. An awesome historical thriller. The Last Days Of Newgate is dark, gritty, intense and powerful with
Jan 19, 2011 Caroline rated it did not like it
Halfway through, the main character kills his dog. And I'm out.
Craig Andrews
Feb 27, 2012 Craig Andrews rated it really liked it
Set in the aftermath of the Napoleonic era it follows a Bow Street Runner by the name of Pike who is a definite rogue/criminal with a sense of honour. I love historical novels and this one (albeit almost entirely fictional) has a lot of good history about the end of the Runners and the creation of the new Metropolitan police force. The main character is likeable and hateable at times and that all adds to the flavour in the well crafted detective/mystery tale. I love what can best be described as ...more
Dec 12, 2011 Wilf rated it it was ok
Set in the murky world of 19th century London and Belfast - and the even murkier world of the politics of that time - this story also has as its background the last days of the Bow Street Runners and their unsuccessful resistance to Peel's newly introduced Police Force. I am still slightly puzzled by the book's title, as the infamous prison at Newgate, which also features in the book, survived for many years after the period in which this story is set.
Hero - or to be more precise - anti-hero is
Another period mystery - grabbed as a fun and simple read for my recent canoe trip. It wasn't very meaty - finished it before the trip ended. I can't really recommend it as a stand alone novel, it's not well written, although the historical period and location (London/Belfast 1829) makes for a very interesting and graphic background and I think it gets a star just for the atmosphere . The cities are brutal and grim places to live but this author is far from the first nor the best author to point ...more
Aug 09, 2012 Ron rated it did not like it
An obnoxious main character, uninteresting plot and the quality of the writing was variable. Although judging by the long list of acknowledgements it would seem unfair to hold the author solely responsible.
Graeme Roberts
Jan 12, 2012 Graeme Roberts rated it it was ok
What a crappy book! Learned a little history, but it was hardly credible, and was chosen to serve the plot, not the other way around. Avoid.
Feb 27, 2012 Jayna rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 13, 2009 Tony rated it really liked it
Andrew Pepper- The Last Days of Newgate (Weidenfeld & Nicolson 2006) 3.75 Stars

This is the first book in the Pyke mystery series and it is a great starter. Pyke is a Bow Street Runner, or basically a plainclothes policeman. He is not exactly the most honest individual, but when he stumbles upon the bodies of three brutally murdered people he is determined to find the guilty party. Quickly he discovers that it may not be just as it seems, there may be a political agenda involved that could en
Oct 02, 2011 Nadir rated it did not like it
First book of a currently five novel series titles ‘A Pyke Mystery’ which is set in 1800s London. The series follows an acutely unpleasant man called Pyke as he investigates a mystery.

I picked this up in a bookshop, as I had read a little of one of the later novels and liked it, and was interested in reading the series. It was a mistake. The only think that is commendable about this book is the cover. I only managed to read a little over a hundred pages, and it was absolute agony. The main chara
Dan Hughes
Jan 30, 2013 Dan Hughes rated it really liked it
The last days of Newgate by Andrew Pepper is a historical novel set in 1829. It follows Pyke, a member of the Bow Street Runners (a prototypical police force) and his efforts to solve a grizzly murder and clear his own name. While I'm well aware it's a work of fiction and as such can't be taken as a true representation of reality, it certainly paints a bleak and bloody picture of regency Britain.

This is not the prim and proper England of Jane Austin's Mr Darcy. This is a filthy, dangerous, pover
Aug 04, 2012 Kristen rated it did not like it
Generally, I am a fan of stories set in and around the Victorian-era in England, but this one was a bit to gritty and stark even for me.

Bow Street Runner Pyke is working on a side-assignment for a paying client, when he discovers the viciously murdered bodies of a man, a woman and their infant baby in a squalid rooming house in London.

When Pyke decides to find out who killed them and why, it quickly becomes apparent that there is a lot more to the deaths than just the general ugliness of the ci
THE LAST DAYS OF NEWGATE (Historical-England-1800s) – NR
Pepper, Andrew – 1st book
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2006 – UK Hardcover – ISBN 029785237X
*** Pyke is a Bow Street Runner called in to investigate the murder of a couple and their infant child. In doing so, Pyke find himself arrested and in Newgate Prison facing a death penalty. To clear himself he must escape and find the real killer and the far-reaching motive behind the murder.
*** This book barely made my 50-page rule but I did read on, u
Catherine Vickers
Feb 25, 2013 Catherine Vickers rated it it was amazing
Not normally my genre as I'm usually a Fantasy fan. However, probably my 2nd favourite, historical English crime.

I loved this book. Can't decide whether I like the main character yet, he has a good heart (I think) but has no qualms about murdering if he feels it's justified.

This plot had many ups and downs for me. Lots of those moments when you think 'how on earth is he going to get out of this one?' Yet he always does somehow.

Great historical details, never sure if they're correct in a ficti
Jun 07, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. I thought the main character was interesting and I didn’t feel like the author was trying to make us see him as a good or a bad guy. He was clearly not a good person but there were flashes of goodness in him and I think writing a character in that way is far more interesting and real than if the character were wholly good or wholly bad. I enjoyed the story but the plot was a little bit thin I thought. I also enjoyed the romance and that is quite unusual for me. I think ...more
Jun 25, 2015 Nicole rated it liked it
The historical fiction was extremely interesting, and led me to brush up on my Pre-Victorian English histories. However, the main character was very hard to identify with and was much to violent for my liking. I was excited to continue the series in hopes that he wouldn't keep murdering those who stood in his way but The Revenge of Captain Paine seemed to keep on track with his crime.
Nov 21, 2015 Lynda rated it it was ok
A fun and easy read. Not motivated to care by the "everyone will disappoint you so care about nothing" sort of underlying attitude. Plot skims over some key details which may appeal to those who don't like to be bothered with the nitty gritty but in at least a couple places I found it bothered me. Fast paced. Grubby, in-the-era feel.
Tim Chaplin
Dec 25, 2010 Tim Chaplin rated it it was amazing
This is the first of the Pyke mystery's. Pyke is an anti-hero and a crook turned Bow Street runner who uses all means necessary to catch criminals. He becomes involved in a murder investigation when three people are murdered including a small child. He ends up becoming a suspect himself so has to avoid the gallows and clear his name.

This is set in pre-victorian England in a dark time with descriptions of the poverty of seven-dials and the wait for execution in Newgate prison. There is also the
Jan 16, 2011 Graham rated it it was ok
Another library book I had to finish early because I just couldn't get on with it.

I had no problem with the protagonist or the plot. From what I read, it was dark and seedy, and I enjoyed the way Pyke interacted with various elements of society (from the rich and famous to the dregs of humanity). A brutal murder kicks the story off in a very dark fashion...

...and then we get a 20-page discourse on police organisation and the merits of a centralised force as opposed to the then-existent Bow Stree
Feb 09, 2015 James rated it it was amazing
A great detective novel set in the hard, brutal world of late Georgian London. Our hero, Pyke, is as likeable as he is unlikeable, rough not only around the edges but all the way through as well. This is a world of cold-hearted aristocrats, penniless prostitutes, mindless violence, and unimaginable destitution. Brilliant stuff.
Jul 31, 2014 Jackie rated it liked it
I cannot say that this is a book I enjoyed, although I read it to the last page.
I enjoyed the plot, and its twists and turns.
I did not however enjoy the graphic descriptions of violence, to the extent that I would probably not read another book by this author.
I am by no means faint hearted, but for me at least, it was just too gory.
Jan 04, 2011 Trawets rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Last Days of Newgate by Andrew Pepper (my first book of 2011), is the first of series featuring a character called Pyke, a Bow Street Runner. while upholding the law Pyke often pursues his own agenda which includes fraud, theft and the killing of those who get in his way and whom he deems deserving of such a fate.
The story which takes in themes as diverse as the founding of the Metropolitan Police, Catholic emancipation, prison reform and agricultural unrest rattles along at a good pace. Ho
Jan 16, 2016 Kristina rated it liked it
Not for the faint hearted. A complex plot with a wide spectrum of characters. It certainly kept me reading to the end to find out what was going on.
This is one of those mysteries that combines literary discourse and historical fiction with a heaping dose of noirish grit and angst. There are some disturbing images (well, you know, it is about murders) and language. There were a couple of moments where the anti-hero elements mixed with some pulpish genre devices that almost made me laugh, but on the whole this is a grim, tense, violent book. I wouldn't recommend it. I kinda liked it.
Aug 18, 2010 Kathy rated it liked it
This was a pretty good book, a little disjointed at times, and I kinda think that this author has written about this character before (altho' the title says it's the first Pyke mystery). There was a lot of backstory with the main character Pyke that was glossed over like you would have been familiar with it from earlier books. But the story here was good (learned a lot about the prison systems in London).
Gordon Chambers
Aug 26, 2010 Gordon Chambers rated it really liked it
This is the second book that I have read in this series, although, of course, this is the first book by the author. As with 'The Detective Branch' I found the book fast moving, exceptionally well researched, a very good story line with many surprises, in fact a thoroughly good read which was very difficult to put down. I look forward to reading the others in the series. Most recommended.
Jul 12, 2009 Tracy rated it really liked it
I am so torn about this book. I really, really didn't like the Pyke, the "protagonist" that much. He's a true anti-hero and kind of despicable, but it was such an intriguing story that I could almost forgive Pyke's hideous character.

Very intriguing, set in a time period that I don't really see a lot of fiction tackle outside of military tales. I enjoyed it and did pick up the sequel today.
Jane Walker
Dec 27, 2013 Jane Walker rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Perhaps Pepper wanted to create a "hero" who was also a villain to make him somehow more real. It doesn't work. And I got lost in the bit where the plot is explained, because it all seemed too unlikely. A pity, because Pepper has the historical background right and writes well.
Sep 15, 2012 Mathew rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mat-s-books
This starts off very well, and it just gets better as the story progresses. The second half of the book increases in pace, and by the time you reach the end it's extremely difficult to put down. I will be interested to see how the character of Pyke develops in the other books. As his first book though, Andrew Pepper has excelled himself for intrigue and adventure.
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Andrew Pepper lives in Belfast where he is a lecturer in English at Queen's University.
More about Andrew Pepper...

Other Books in the Series

A Pyke Mystery (5 books)
  • The Revenge Of Captain Paine (A Pyke Mystery, #2)
  • Kill-Devil And Water (A Pyke Mystery, #3)
  • The Detective Branch (A Pyke Mystery, #4)
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