Even the book is not too long with around 318 pages, it took me an unusual long time to finish the book. The reason for that was not the quality of theEven the book is not too long with around 318 pages, it took me an unusual long time to finish the book. The reason for that was not the quality of the story. I just read it when I was in the right mood for epic fantasy.
All in all a strong debut with interesting characters, action and, a story which revealed details well dosed. The stage has been prepared for the next novel.
I loved "Terror" and I loved "Drood". I expected something similar which I did not get. For me it seems Dan Simmons wanted too much. I expected a HolmI loved "Terror" and I loved "Drood". I expected something similar which I did not get. For me it seems Dan Simmons wanted too much. I expected a Holmes novel. Therefore there was a way too much of Henry James. The historical details were interesting but not in this context. It disturbed the story itself. I'm sure there are people who will like the level of historical detail and who will like Henry James.
Introduction Welcome to the review of a crime mystery set in early years of the Victorian era. I know that life for people at the bottom of the hierarchIntroduction Welcome to the review of a crime mystery set in early years of the Victorian era. I know that life for people at the bottom of the hierarchy was no bed of roses especially for women and children. Upper class ladies faced another enemy: boredom and paternalism. On the other hand it was a time of invention and progress. Police work were in one's infancy. It is the mix of all the ingredients which fascinate me. Of course this has an influence on what I expect on crime and/or mystery novels set in Victorian era. But I neither want Dickensian exposition nor the exclusive use of English spoken at that time. I'm afraid I would not understand a word.
I'm more than happy that I discovered the book I review today because it delivered what I hoped to get.
The 267 pages of the book are divided into 34 consecutively numbered chapters which are followed by an epilogue. The story is told from third person. Main characters are Chief Constable Major Vernon and police surgeon Felix Carswell.
1840 ... England ....the fictitious town of Northminster ... a ditch outside the wall ... a corpse murdered and mutilated ....
This is the premise for the first day of police surgeon Felix Carswell. His new boss is Chief Constable Major Vernon, a former soldier who served in India. Major Vernon is a man with a vision of how police should be organised and work. Felix Carswell is a young man who studied surgery in Edinburgh has to cope with the fact that he is the bastard son of Lord Rothborough.
The characterisation is well done. Both main characters have weak spots which have an impact on the story. Furthermore each character who has an impact on the story is described in a way that you know immediately the social status of the person and you understand why the act as they do. Especially the description of status and role of women is a highlight. Women do not stay in the background in this story. But the all act as one could expect from women in Victorian era. All the characters mirror Victorian society in a superb way. They are vibrant and alive!
The fictitious town of Northminster is described in such a sense of realism and accuracy that the reader is drawn into real Victorian town like a jump into the drawing chalk sketches in the film Marry Poppins. It is like a time travel in your mind with a great portion of realism when it comes to smell, dirt and so on. But the story is not limited to the boundaries of the town. There are farms outside , the Rothborough estate, an asylum for wayward girls and not to forget a train travel to London.
Dickensian exposition and the exclusive use of English spoken at that time. Nevertheless language and prose support the story efficiently. There is something ageless in that which makes it reading a pleasure.
Who is responsible for the murder and the mutilation of the corps found in the ditch outside the wall? This is the question to be answered by Chief Constable Major Vernon and police surgeon Felix Carswell. Until near the end of the book Vernon and Carswell are in the dark and the reader does not get more information as they get. With every clue found by the two men and with every revelation of dirty little secrets the story twists and turns into another direction. There is more than one suspect which force guessing. Social convention is a hindrance at times.
The investigation gets more and more complicated by the personal secrets and weaknesses of the investigators. There are scenes where you may not understand the naivety of the detectives. At first sight I could not understand it too. But at second sight and with over 50 years of experience of life let me tell you, that there are men who behave like Vernon and Carswell.
All the mentioned ingredients deliver a book which is nearly impossible to put down. It is a real page turner and only sleep hindered me to read the book in one session.
Author Harriet Smart talent shines in her way to present characters, culture, setting, and description of Victorian era.
I rated the book with five stars over at GOODREADS. It is another excellent example how living conditions in Victorian England in combination with excellent characters and a twisted plot deliver perfect entertainment which does not dismiss the reader without spending time to think about living conditions and police procedure in Victorian England.
If you love crime and mysteries set in the Victorian era like I do then you should put The Butchered Man on your list.
If you want to discover crime and mysteries set in the Victorian era then you should give The Butchered Man a try.
I for myself bought copies of available book two and three in The Northminster Mysteries The Dead Songbird (digital, February 2013) [ Kindle Edition ASIN: B00BD75QQW] by Harriet Smart. The Shadowcutter (digital, March 2015) [ Kindle Edition ASIN: B00V8YEBWU] by Harriet Smart.
Furthermore I ordered a copy of book four to be published in February 2016 in advance. The Hanging Cage (digital, 1st February 2016) [ Kindle Edition ASIN: B01ACFBI2G] by Harriet Smart.
This solid fantasy debut novel delivers witty dialogue, a main character with an ignoble tongue, a story with twists and turns, funny moments, a pinchThis solid fantasy debut novel delivers witty dialogue, a main character with an ignoble tongue, a story with twists and turns, funny moments, a pinch of steampunk and sword and sorcery. It is not my book of the year but I have had a good time with this book. ...more
That has been a book which disguised its quality in the beginning.
The cover and the description convinced me to read the book. I liked the setting, thThat has been a book which disguised its quality in the beginning.
The cover and the description convinced me to read the book. I liked the setting, the characters and the story which seemed straight forward in the beginning. But the more I read and the more the author revealed the more interesting the story itself got. Unexpected twists and turns gave the story more depth. I thought I identified the pawns in the game and I was wrong. Normally I'm not a fan of stories where religion plays a greater role. But here religion plays an important role and I liked how religion is involved. The book does not end with a cliffhanger but with wide range of speculation.
In the beginning I rated the book with three stars which turned into five stars at the end. Now I look forward to the sequel. I want to know if I guessed right or not.
The following review is also available on my blog and on Amazon under nickname brienneselwyn.
The 346 pages of the book are divided into 35 consecutiveThe following review is also available on my blog and on Amazon under nickname brienneselwyn.
The 346 pages of the book are divided into 35 consecutively numbered chapters which are framed by an prologue and an epilogue. The story is told in the first person by Inspector Ian Frey of Magdeburg which means he belongs to nobility. I come back to that soon.
London, 1888. Jack the Ripper spreads terror. Police and government are under pressure from Crown and public. The fear of uproar is palpable.
Therefore the message of a brutal murder under mysterious circumstances in Edinburgh must be solved quick and with as less as possible civil commotion.
The failure of the police in the Ripper case lead to consequences which accompanied by other revelations turn the life of Inspector Ian Frey upside down within one day. Frey is ordered to go to Edinburgh to support Scottish Detective Adolpho 'Nine-Nails' McGray.
The first meeting of the two main protagonists is like a collision of worlds and I was afraid that the ongoing bickering between Frey and McGray would be no good for the story. Quite the contrary ! A lot of things would not have happened without the bickering. It is an important ingredient.
Beside the excellent described Frey and McGray other characters do not disappear. Every person important for the story from the servant over the superior over the gypsy to the poor chimney sweep get the deserved attention.
There are two main locations: London and Edinburgh. We know a lot of at least London in Victorian era thanks to countless reports, books written at the times, photos and pictures. We don't know how it smelled, it reeked. It is magnificent how the author let come these two towns come alive. It is like a time travel to places you have not been before. You see the dirt on your shoes, the malodorousness creeps into your nose until the nostrils are filled with the ever present soot, The foggy streets give you the creep, You try to avoid the ruthless cart and coach drivers, you taste the drinks and food which make your stomach rumble and more ..... This is the atmosphere which people with a passion for Victorian England love and it is all in the book just waiting to blossom in your imagination.
The mystery itself is a unique and complex one and comes along with more than a gothic touch which is underlined through the superstition in the mind of many people. All the twists and turns let you guess for a long time who is the responsible for the killing of people in Edinburgh. Through the importance of violin for the story the author delivers a lot of insight in the work of instrument makers which is most interesting for readers who are not familiar with the making of violin. The mystery and all the steps to be taken to solve it is irresolvable connected to the private life of Frey and McGray and their dear and near ones. The case does not stop at the entrance of the home.
The writing is superbly. English is not my first language. The use of the Scottish accent ( like "ken" instead of "know") slowed down my reading but I enjoyed it because it underlines the difference between Frey as a noble coming from the most important town of the country and the inhabitants of Edinburgh.
Finally I need to mention that beside all the murder, mystery and horror the author flavoured the story with humour which delivers a fabulous read.
What a brilliant debut novel! Oscar de Muriel pressed the right buttons and pulled the right strings to deliver a promising, brilliant, riveting and unforgettable start of a series which is MOREISH. The chapter have the prefect length for all the "just one more chapter" readers like me which mean you will look tired in the morning ......
I rated the book with five stars over at GOODREADS because it entertained me perfectly in every aspect and that is what I expect from a book. Furthermore it let me think about superstition and living conditions in Victorian England. It sounds like a nightmare when you read reports about chimney sweepers in Victorian England.
Now I can't wait to read the next book in the series.
A Fever of the Blood (digital, February 2016) [Kindle edition ASIN: B00NPIUILA] by Oscar de Muriel will be available on 11th of February 2016.
As I said in my comment to the first book in the series I'm not a big fan of urban fantasy but what Paul Cornell delivers with his Shadows Police seriAs I said in my comment to the first book in the series I'm not a big fan of urban fantasy but what Paul Cornell delivers with his Shadows Police series is excellent. The Severed Streets is even a bit better then London Falling.
The main characters have to go through a lot.I do not always agree with their methods and decisions but there is mostly nothing without a reason behind. New parties enter the greater game The mix of police procedural and the "dark side" of London is excellent. And there is still the question of Lofthouse's secret. Beside Jack the Ripper you meet author Neil Gaiman who plays a certain role which makes sense in case you read his book Neverwhere.
I can't wait to read the next book in the series.
WHO KILLED SHERLOCK HOLMES will be published in May 2016