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3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  2,270 Ratings  ·  214 Reviews
In 18th-century London, squalor vies with elegance as architect Nicholas Dyer is commissioned to build new churches in the aftermath of the Great Fire. CID Detective Hawksmoor, 250 years later, investigates a series of murders that have occurred on the sites of certain 18th-century London churches.
Hardcover, 217 pages
Published January 1st 1986 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1985)
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Sep 22, 2016 Fabian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You stand before something of this caliber, of this infinite and much-appreciated majesty, like the monkeys at the beginning of "2001"--in full awe of the macabre monolith, black and Godly, for its monstrous magnetism and awful set of implications.

I LOVE THIS novel! It t makes my hair stand on end and goosebumps begin to form...

This is avant garde, and nearer perfection than any novel in recent memory (I'd probably have to contend with Graham Greene's "Quiet American" or "End of the Affair" for
Aug 19, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone wishing to exercise their ye olde english voice
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
Inspector Morse meets the Time Travellers Wife with a hint of Grand Designs. But without the actual in-plot benefits of inexplicable time travel, a love interest or Kevin McCloud.

Ah London, the Big Smoke, the Great Wen, the sunken, scum-ridden, grease-spotted, pitted underbelly of the Old World. New York is referred to as the Big Apple, which implies shiny, fresh-ripened juiciness. If London was a fruit it would probably be that odd-looking stinky one that comes
Jan 17, 2011 F.R. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One has to admire Peter Ackroyd for not following the easy path. A book which has devil worship, murder and old London landmarks seems almost tailor-made for the Dan Brown crowd (okay, this was published long before Brown became a sensation, but on paper it would look a dream for any PR department), but then he goes and writes the first chapter – and, indeed, every odd numbered chapter – in daunting 1700’s English. “And so let us beginne, and, as the Fabrick takes its Shape in front of you, alwa ...more
Derek Davis
Sep 10, 2010 Derek Davis rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: to anyone who likes an edge of darkness in superb writing
This tale of the merged identities of a 17th century London architect and a contemporary police detective is wracked with darkness and terror. Few novels have ever had such a smashing impact on me, leaving me close to collapse. Magnificent style by Ackroyd (as always) but not offset by his often too-cleverness. It won major awards, then seems to have been largely forgotten. Come on, lads, lets not let it get away.
Jul 07, 2014 Shawn rated it it was amazing
What an amazing book! Profound, intriguing, emotionally heart-felt, disturbing. Everything you could want out of book. Which is to say - an incredible novel... but not for everyone.

Reading HAWKSMOOR heartily rang the area of my aesthetic bells that J.G. Ballard or Steven Millhauser also chime - and I can distinctly remember being dismayed by reviews on Goodreads that dismissed those authors with "unlikeable characters", "too cold", "too British", "too removed" or, in Millhauser's case "more inte
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
If this was a movie, this is what most likely what your experience of watching it will be.

It opens with a dark, ancient-looking world, so you begin with a quiver of excitement. Actually, it'll be London, in the early 18th century. The characters, and the way they speak, look and sound queer (on paper, its a very old english with lots of weird spellings and words with their first letters capitalized, like : "There is no Light without Darknesse and no Substance without Shaddowe..."). Sort of where
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
I first read this when I was still in college, in a copy borrowed from the British Library. It seemed brilliant and just a little obscure back then, and my impression hasn't changed much. Ackroyd weaves a complex web of allusions and resonances that propel a tale of two oddly parallel lives in London in the 18th century and the 20th century. It's the story of how 7 churches in London were secretly constructed on occult principles as focuses for dark energies; the result seems to be a sort of war ...more
You wouldn't think that an old-fashioned way of writing, as in the odd-numbered chapters of this book, could put me off. I mean, I've learnt Anglo-Saxon and Old Icelandic, and Middle English is easier for me than a post-modern novel. Oddly enough, though, this has been called a post-modern novel (though the author, apparently, somewhat disagrees), so maybe that's why.

Actually, though I found those sections off-putting, I found them better written and more interesting than the modern sections. I'
Mar 07, 2011 Sue marked it as worth-trying-again-someday
I simply got stuck in this book and I'm not sure how much was me and how much was the book. Parts were interesting but parts seemed so labored. I really wanted to like it. Oh well. I may try this again in a few months and see if it hits me any differently. Til then, there are so many other things I want to read.
So the blurb on the back of the book had almost zero to do with the plot, which involves the Plague and the Great Fire of London, and an 18th century Satan-worshiping church builder who sacrifices children, and mysterious present day murders at those churches which may or may not be being perpetrated by a ghost... it's a deeply weird book. It's also one of those books that was clearly written for other writers. He's put together the narrative like a piece of old-fashioned clockwork, and it's bre ...more

Ackroyd is always at his best when he is writing about London. In many of his books, London is the main character, not so much a protagonist or antagonist but a present character all the same.
This is true here.
Hawksmoor is about a series of murders that are connected with the churches in London. The book soars when dealing with London, and the menace of the neighborhood, the life of Spitalfields is wonderfully illustrated.
For all its briefness, it is a heavy book that talks a while to diges
Jul 16, 2016 Roseb612 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Roseb612 by: 1001
Na tuto knihu jsem se těšila od chvíle, kdy jsem ji objevila na 1001 List - zkoušela jsem číst anglický originál, ale na alžbětinskou angličtinu nejsem dost dobrý angličtinář, takže když se knížka objevila v edičáku Paseky, tak jsem zajásala - právě díky té archaické angličtině to trvalo tři roky, než knížka vyšla, ale nakonec se to čekání vyplatilo.

Text je dělený po kapitolách mezi dvě časové roviny - začátek osmnáctého století a osmdesátá léta dvacátého století - a oběma těmto rovinám odpovídá
May 28, 2010 Architeacher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As an architectural historian, Ackroyd's play with real characters and actual places is especially intriguing. The real 18th century architect Nicholas Hawksmoor becomes the fictitious Nicholas Dyer, heavily involved with the occult. Hawksmoor the architect (a favorite of mine and always on my "top ten" whose works are high on my bucket list of must see buildings) designed six London churches. Ackroyd has the fictional Dyer designing seven churches, the last one of which was conjured in my imagi ...more
Apr 02, 2012 Anya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: university
It seems like such a good idea, two timeline's interweaving, kind of a crime novel crossed with something like The Time Traveller's Wife with a bit of obscure Satanism thrown in for good measure. But, and I'm not sure if this was Ackroyd's intentions, it doesn't quite come off like that. In reality, or whatever world Ackroyd is writing about, it comes across as a split-personality disorder across the centuries. Don't get me wrong, for the right audience, it is completely worth digging through th ...more
May 04, 2012 Arthur rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
It's been a long time since I read this, but I remember the impact it had on me clearly. I live and work in London and know well many of the streets and buildings on which the novel is based. You can't live in a place that has so much history and not wonder about the lives and events that preceding generations experienced there. Ackroyd takes this wonder and weaves an intricate story linking the past, present, concepts of evil around the real buildings that Hawksmoor created. I read this on a ve ...more
From BBC Radio 4:

1/2: London, 1711: An architect sets to work on some new churches, but few could imagine his dreadful purpose. Stars Philip Jackson.

2/2: Eighteenth-century architect Nicholas Dyer is under suspicion, and a series of modern murders baffle Hawksmoor. Stars Philip Jackson.
I may have been in the wrong mood to read this but this is the internet and I can do whatever I want. Two stars! Good day, sir!
Nadosia Grey
Best fictional novel I’ve read in the past 3 years. What a joy to read, but at the same, what a terrible ordeal. This may be classified as mystery, postmodern, and horror and, indeed, it is all of these things. The last thing I expected was a horror element exacerbated by whispering shadows and thoughtless murders. This is by no means an easy work—something that you can breeze through once and understand. There is a slow methodological rumination weaving your attention throughout the novel. You ...more
May 23, 2010 Anaelenaglez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historic-fiction
Described as "a poet's novel", Hawksmoor is a daring, uncompromising experiment in narrative time. Inspired in Iain Sinclair's Lud Heat (1975), it fulfills the psychogeographical premise that places are imbued with a certain energy, and buildings, such as the Hawksmoor churches in London, are shrines to the particular design of the architect, scripts which are destined to be reenacted again and again throughout history. A fascinating play on the theme of the double and parallel worlds, Hawksmoor ...more
Apr 20, 2013 Fred rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pringle-100-fa
This is the first book I've read by Peter Ackroyd, and it will not be the last. This is a fantastic work, strangely reminding me of an elevated Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson. (they take place in a similar time span). This book is denser than Quicksilver of course, and will prove to many readers to be a difficult read in the beginning. With perseverance comes revelation, as the murder mystery tale comes to fruition.
Brief synopsis: Nicholas Dyer designs six churches for the city of London. He i
In the early 18th century an architect oversees the construction of 7 churches while in the 1980's a policeman struggles to solve a series of murders.
I'm giving this a reluctant 4 out of 5. This is an awkward one, very high-brow but some of it was definitely lost on me.
It requires a considerable degree of patience and concentration to read.
Much of it is written in Ye Olde english from the 1700's which i liked, its not the style but the substance which is hard to digest.
Oh and you will definite
Though this is a fairly short book at 217 pages, it is not an easy read, in part because the historical chapters are written in olde English which takes some getting used to. When I reached part two, I decided to stop and begin reading the book over again: I found I was understanding the language a bit better but I also realized there were coincidences across time to which I should be paying closer attention. I also wanted to acquaint myself with the actual historical events of the time period b ...more
Nov 02, 2015 Daphne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: quest
This was an interesting read. I can that it wouldn't be for everyone. It jumps all over the place in time, and has many different voices involved. There were some parts that will stick with me for a long while. Adding in the old rhymes and songs was a perfectly splendid touch that added much to the story.

I recommend this for anyone that likes their books with a bit of the weird, and appreciates an author that writes some great sentences.
Disappointing, vague, metaphysical. A rambling and rather pointless tale of a murdering Satanist architect of churches in London in the late 17th/early 18th centuries, and his metaphysical twin, a modern-day detective investigating murders that parallel those of the past. The curious coincidences are never explained, and the ending is nebulous and unsatisfying.
Vit Babenco
Dec 11, 2013 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"And so the facts don't mean much until you have interpreted them?" The task of the writer is to interpret the facts. Peter Ackroyd is a master of dark interpretations and his Hawksmoor is one of them. Evil is universal and it can't be destroyed even by currents of time.
Sep 13, 2016 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In a weird way I was dreading this book. I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction, especially if it takes place in the middle ages/enlightenment era. However, Hawksmoor is a different kettle of fish and incorporates many other literary genres.

The novel is based on the six churches that Nicholas Hawksmoor (here renamed Dyer) built. The thing is Dyer is part of a Satanic cult and is building churches for human sacrifice.

The even numbered chapters takes place in 1980’s London, where there are a ser
Jan 26, 2016 Jose rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pam Baddeley
Difficult to do justice to this complex book with so many parallels in its interwoven narrative that switches between the early 18th century and late twentieth. The narrative of Nicholas Dyer, based on the real life Nicholas Hawksmoor - whose name Ackroyd gives instead to his 20th century detective - is an impressive recreation of the thought processes and even the style of expression, down to the eccentric spelling and frequent capital letters, of a deeply sinister character whose nihilism and ...more
Jan 22, 2015 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An architect of churches who worked under Christopher Wren, Nicholas Hawksmoor's work was not really recognized until the early 20th century.
Ackroyd, a highly regarded man of letters in England (yet I must admit I had scarcely heard of him) takes this historical snippet and very freely fictionalizes.

Hawksmoor, working in the early 18th century, is recast under the name Nicholas Dyer, and enrolled in a Satanic cult with the mission to spill blood on the foundation of every church he builds.

The na
Jun 13, 2014 Sarah rated it liked it
I feel as though I ought to like Hawksmoor more than I actually did. Perhaps if I'd read more about it first and seen the volume of praise for it as a post-modern novel, I would have come in with a different expectation - but the truth of it is, I am not a fan of post-modernism, and I have yet to read a post-modern work that really appealed to me.

Half of Hawksmoor, it must be said, is fucking brilliant. Peter Ackroyd chose to write in a full 18th century style, and the work he put into that styl
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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 about Peter Ackroyd...

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“I have liv'd long enough for others, like the Dog in the Wheel, and it is now the Season to begin for myself: I cannot change that Thing call'd Time, but I can alter its Posture and, as Boys do turn a looking-glass against the Sunne, so I will dazzle you all.” 12 likes
“He stood beneath the white tower, and looked up at it with that mournful expression which his face always carried in repose: for one moment he thought of climbing up its cracked and broken stone, and then from its summit screaming down at the silent city as a child might scream at a chained animal.” 8 likes
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