Laura Hogensen's Reviews > The Pleasures of Men

The Pleasures of Men by Kate Williams
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Sep 13, 12

bookshelves: modern-british-fiction
Read from September 09 to 12, 2012

This is Williams's first novel, so bear that in mind as you read the review. The novel centers around a serial killer - the Man of Crows - who is brutally killing and then defacing women in London during the early Victorian period ( 1840s). Williams tells the story primarily through the eyes of Catherine sorgeiul, a young woman with a dark past who is living with her uncle in the area where the murders are occurring. Catherine, herself, is a bit mad, having been recently released from a mental institution. As her memories of her own dark past surface, she begins to be drawn closer and closer to the mystery of the Man of Crows, endangering herself and others.

The novel starts off promisingly. The London that Williams paints for us is dark, bleak, stagnant, poor, and seething with anger. We are not sure who to trust and even who we are listening to, as she employs multiple narrators at some points. The breathless pace of the novel and its central mystery carries until the final third, where Williams's editor, no doubt, told her she needed to wrap things up. As Williams tries to drive the plot to its conclusion, the atmospherics of the novel suffer, and the entire denouement feels clunky and far too drawn out.

Overall, this a worthy first effort, and obviously meticulously researched. I hope she continues to write fiction in addition to her nonfiction work.
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