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The Kingdom of Bones (Sebastian Becker #1)

3.39  ·  Rating Details ·  397 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
"The Kingdom of Bones" is the haunting story of Tom Sayers, a former boxing champion who must
continue to fight--to clear his name after a series of gruesome murders, for the heart and soul of a leading lady, and to uncover the truth behind a legend as old as evil itself.
Wrongly accused of the slaughter of pauper children in the wake of the touring theater company he mana
Hardcover, 369 pages
Published September 25th 2007 by Shaye Areheart Books (first published 2007)
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(showing 1-30)
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Maya Panika
Jan 17, 2013 Maya Panika rated it really liked it
A fast paced thriller with a touch of the supernatural. The Kingdom of Bones starts out a regular Victorian crime story with a dash of limelight and greasepaint, but quickly develops into something more deeply nuanced; a supernatural tale, peopled with strange and shady characters; a tale of obsessive, unrequited love.

The story opens in the world of Victorian British provincial theatre, where Tom Sayers, a once-successful professional boxer, is now stage manager with a touring company. Set up fo
Jan 16, 2008 Lee rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I found the book to be an interesting thriller. Tom Sayers, an accused killer, must clear his name and save the woman that he loves. It traces Sayers journey from England to the United States where is he looking for the "Wanderer," a creature that has sold his soul to the devil in exchange for a very long life and a life without guilt. This is an excellent thriller with great character development and suspense.
Jul 10, 2015 Gerry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tom Sayers is a former boxing champion who turns to theatre management and then becomes involved in the twilight world of music halls, boxing booths and travelling theatrical shows as he strives to clear his name after a series of murders.

His story unfolds once he meets, purely by chance, an old acquaintance, Sebastian Becker, in Philadelphia. Becker, a former detective in England, is a Pinkerton detective and he pursues Sayers around America in this Gothic tale of obsession and murder that has
Sue Smith
Sep 03, 2016 Sue Smith rated it it was ok
Such a disappointment.

This book had huge potential and it just fell flat. I was well into it (over a hundred pages) and I still didn’t really know or care. But once you get that invested, you need to carry on because surely the turning point is just around the corner and things will become better.


If anything it just got more muddled.

First off, the plot had several characters that each had a strong story line. Now I don’t know about you but I’ve found that when an author starts with a spec
May 20, 2010 Laurie rated it really liked it
“The Kingdom of Bones” is a mystery, and a book about the supernatural, but mostly it’s a book about obsessive love.

Tom Sayers, ex-boxer and manager of a small theatrical troupe, is in love with Louise Porter, the troupe’s ingénue. Sadly for him, she is infatuated with the troupe’s young lead, who is being groomed by the owner of the troupe. It’s obvious he’s being groomed to replace him on stage, but what most don’t realize is that he’s also set to take over a far darker role from his mentor.
I recently read 'The Bedlam Detective' which featured Sebastian Becker, former Pinkerton Detective, and later discovered Becker made a previous appearance in Gallagher's 'The Kingdom of Bones' published in 2007. So, of course, I had to read it. It's hard not to compare the two books, I liked them both. Now I'm a big fan of Sebastian Becker's and can't wait for Gallagher to publish the third stand-alone novel featuring the detective.

I liked the story line in 'Kingdom' as well as the characters. I
Bookmarks Magazine

The Brit Stephen Gallagher isn't new to genre fiction, having published more than a dozen novels and collections, most recently The Painted Bride (2006), The Spirit Box (2005), and Out of His Mind (2004). The Kingdom of Bones does not masquerade as a historical novel. Rather, despite some slow spots and anachronisms, it succeeds as a thriller that perfectly captures the Victorian era's culture. Thanks to attentive research, Gallagher's narrative tapestry

Nov 14, 2016 Kathy rated it really liked it
A complex and creative tale using historical characters covering late 1880's to early 1900's, with action taking place between England and America. This book incorporates a variety of themes; one showing intimate knowledge of the workings of English theatre, one indicating knowledge of the occult (hopefully not intimate), boxing events from formal to carnival as well as early Pinkerton work. The reader's sympathy is initially granted to Tom Sayers, former boxer now efficiently managing a theatre ...more
Janette Fleming
Oct 21, 2015 Janette Fleming rated it really liked it
"The Kingdom of Bones" is the haunting story of Tom Sayers, a former boxing champion who must continue to fight--to clear his name after a series of gruesome murders, for the heart and soul of a leading lady, and to uncover the truth behind a legend as old as evil itself.
Wrongly accused of the slaughter of pauper children in the wake of the touring theater company he manages, Tom Sayers is forced to disappear into a twilight world of music halls and traveling boxing booths. Beginning with a cha
Nov 30, 2012 Wolf rated it really liked it
'The Kingdom of Bones' is a solidly entertaining crime thriller. It blends elements of the detective story, the gothic or supernatural thriller and historical novel artfully together.
It is easy to read and you'll find yourself quickly drawn into the story. Its historical setting (late Victorian and Edwardian England and America) is well and, generally, convincingly drawn. It is to its credit that minor quibbles (would hotel staff have worn name plates in this age?) stand out because we generally
Niki Costantini
Comincio col dire che sul mio giudizio (le due stellette) ha pesato per lo più la traduzione: l'ho trovata piuttosto scialba e con più di una imperfezione, fin troppo moderna per un romanzo storico come questo.
Per il resto si tratta di un discreto romanzo di puro intrattenimento, che non pretende di essere nulla di più. L'autore è riuscito a mettere insieme un prodotto piutosto accattivante: una trama avvincente molto cinematografica, una buona parte di gotico, un tocco di soprannaturale, un po
Mar 29, 2011 T4ncr3d1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inglesi, preferiti, horror
"Se l'amore può redimere, allora sappi che sei già stata redenta molte volte."

Uno straordinario romanzo gotico, scritto egregiamente da un autore che si intende del genere. Un libro che incanta e che tiene viva la suspence e l'attenzione del lettore fino alla fine. Un finale forse prevedibile, ma comunque bellissimo.
Mi è piaciuta tantissimo (e questo è sorprendente!) l'ambientazione: una Londra oscura e gotica tra Ottocento e Novecento. Lo stile è semplice nella sua narrazione in terza persona,
May 14, 2008 Trilby rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, thriller, england
This is tailored to my current reading tastes: an historical/detective/mystery/thriller. Gallagher's novel is centered around the fictitious version of a real person: bare knuckle fighter Tom Sayers. Gallagher's impressive historical research shows in the realistic recreations of 1880's Manchester and London and turn-of-the-century Philadelphia, Richmond, and New Orleans. As with even the best historical thrillers, some of the plotting is unlikely to the extreme, but this is offset by the ...more
Nov 06, 2007 Xarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was not quite what I was expecting; the book summary made it sound more "thrilling." Despite this, I finished the book in just a few days. The most surprising thing was the fact that all the violent sections in the book were not drawn out, which left the reader filling in blanks (which is probably more intense and terrifying than being told what exactly was happending).

The book would have been more thrilling if the history of the Wanderer was explained. T
Jan 28, 2013 Cate rated it really liked it
I really liked this story--the characters were complicated enough to keep my interest, and the settings were all wonderfully detailed and not often written about. I was a bit surprised when the story began to lean towards the supernatural, but it did not detract from the story. My only complaint was that every now and then the story seemed to drag slightly--I caught myself wondering how this story could span over so many years. All things considered, this was really exciting, and I would love to ...more
Jan 11, 2016 Sally rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but I liked it nonetheless. It wasn't the best thriller I've ever read, nor was it the worst. I liked the addition of Bram Stoker, and thought that made it a little more kitsch. As for the storyline, I thought some more description of the Wanderer was necessary, though I understand why Gallagher didn't add it. Overall, I certainly enjoyed the more psychological aspects of this, and thought that both Sayers and Becker were good characters.
Carolyn Fitzpatrick
Jul 30, 2011 Carolyn Fitzpatrick rated it really liked it
It starts off as a fun 19th century detective novel, but then about halfway through it turns into that Denzel Washington movie "Fallen" with some kind of mystical demon motivation angle. It is never quite clear whether the demon is real or whether the killers are so caught up in the idea of the demon that they fool themselves into thinking that they have no choice but to make people suffer. So kind of weird, but good.
Rosemary Zurawel
Mar 15, 2016 Rosemary Zurawel rated it really liked it
Obsessive love, a Pinkerton man, and the hapless Tom Sayers lie at the heart of this mystery. I had read The Bedlam Detective previously, and found it a good read. This tome, its predecessor, is well written and introduces the reader to desperation in the form of obsessive adoration. Brad Stoker makes a number of appearances, and this is my only negative response to the book; Stoker appears and disappears as a token spent on needless reality by the author.
Diane Clavette
Dec 18, 2014 Diane Clavette rated it really liked it
A curious tale, which aroused curious thoughts. Questions emerged about the power of beliefs, morals and how the period in which one lived has a great role in shaping each one of us - again, nature vs nurture. The unusual premise of the story within the story was totally engaging. A totally interesting tale, thought provoking, unusual and entertaining. Not what I expected, so pleasantly pleased to be so surprised. Well worth reading.
Aug 14, 2009 Chris rated it it was ok
Shelves: never-finished
I quit reading about halfway through because it just wasn't going to get any better. The plot was murky and the author seemed to be making it up as he went along rather than having a clear idea of what the book was going to be about in the first place. Reasonably interesting characters (including Bram Stoker) in search of a plot. It wasn't bad--it just wasn't very good.
Felicia LIttle
Mar 13, 2016 Felicia LIttle rated it really liked it
Subtle magic is an underlying and dark current in this historical thriller. It's rich with feeling and lush descriptions while keep a fast pace. The ending was not unhappy but closer to authentic and subject to interpretation whether the outcome was good or ill. Looking forward to reading more from this author.
Jul 26, 2013 Heather rated it liked it
An interesting take on your typical murder mystery. Gallagher takes a little of the "mystery" out of the novel through his choice of story setup, however it is still an interesting historically-based story. One of my favorite draws is the fact that the main character, Sebastian Becker, is not infallible, unlike so many other murder-mystery characters.
Apr 12, 2011 RosieL. rated it liked it
A mystery-thriller set in England and the U.S. in the early 1900s. It's the story of a former boxer who is running after the woman he loves, who just happens to become the "Wanderer." Luckily the gruesome parts were not given in detail. Suspenseful writing, but left a lot unexplained about who or what the "Wanderer" is and why.
Rosie L.
Feb 28, 2008 Rosie L. rated it liked it
Recommended to Rosie by: BookMarks
A mystery-thriller set in England and the U.S. in the early 1900s. It's the story of a former boxer who is running after the woman he loves, who just happens to become the "Wanderer." Luckily the gruesome parts were not given in detail. Suspenseful writing, but left a lot unexplained about who or what the "Wanderer" is and why.
Nicole Shelby
Dec 08, 2012 Nicole Shelby rated it really liked it
I never heard of this book before I picked it up from the library. I decided to read it solely because this review was written on the cover: "If thriller reading were a sin, Stephen Gallagher would be responsible for my ultimate damnation. His work is fast paced, well written, infused with a sense of dark wonder, and altogether fresh."

Koontz has earned my appreciation.
Oct 07, 2014 AmbushPredator rated it really liked it
A nicely atmospheric tale from a master storyteller, this combines gothic notes with an old fashioned mystery come redemption tale. The flashbacks are nicely drawn, and it leaves you wanting more of the characters. Handily, Sebastian Becker appears in the sequel, which I've just bought.
Jul 28, 2014 Susie rated it really liked it
Morbidly fascinating. Bram Stoker is one of the characters and he is probably the one who seems most everyday. Great job on time period and characters and glimpses of theater life in London and in U.S.Mkaes me want to read more bios of Henry Irving and Bram Stoker too.
Lani Neumann
Jul 22, 2008 Lani Neumann rated it liked it
Not as heavy as the title sounds. Interesting use of real people - Bram Stoker - in a fictional mystery that takes you into the world of turn of the century traveling theater performers and a private detective who must know what happened in one of his oldest unsolved cases. A great subway read!
Feb 15, 2014 April rated it it was ok
In the end I couldn't bring myself to really like the book. The beginning was slow to draw me in but then it got really good. Then halfway through the book it became a supernatural story that I wasn't expecting to read at all; and not in a good way.
John Caron
Mar 27, 2015 John Caron rated it really liked it
Many twists and turns on this macabre murder mystery. The first on the Sebastian Becker series (although I read the second book first). The third in the series is being written and I look forwArd to it.
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Spoiler alert 1 2 Nov 23, 2015 04:19PM  
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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 Bedlam Detective (Sebastian Becker, #2)

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