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Murder as a Fine Art

(Thomas De Quincey #1)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  7,405 ratings  ·  1,037 reviews
Gaslit London is brought to its knees in David Morrell's brilliant historical thriller.

Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his memoir 'Confessions of an English Opium-Eater', is the major suspect in a series of ferocious mass murders identical to ones that terrorized London forty-three years earlier.

The blueprint for the killings seems to be De Quincey's essay "On Murder Consi
Hardcover, 358 pages
Published May 7th 2013 by Mulholland Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,405 ratings  ·  1,037 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Jun 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A dark, ruby red liquid that seeps into the mind and into the soul.

Laudanum....."Although the constraints of Victorian society discouraged anyone from confessing to what was considered a failing of fortitude."

Thomas De Quincey, author of "Confessions of an English Opium Eater", made no secret of his dependency on what was contained in that little blue bottle to subdue the pains of the head and the face. But no one would be able to subdue the panic and out-of-control fear that escalates after a s
Apr 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Kudos need to go to David Morrell for the detailed research he must have done to write this book. Not only regarding De Quincy but 1850's London. It's about time some one gave De Quincy a fair podium.

As far as the re-enactment of the multiple murders perpetrated in this story, based on the actual murders that took place, the amount of detail supplied moved the story along at a fine pace.

Some of my favorite parts of the book were the back story into the life of the antagonist, especially of his
May 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Basic RGB
1854 London, Lord Palmerston in charge, under the cover of fog with a gas light as aid to see in the streets and the Hansom Cab as means of transport, a macabre scene of death unfolds. David Morrell has created a story in a bygone time, a historical mystery that has truths meet together, facts in fiction. This is Edgar Allen Poe visits Dickens London kind of mystery.

Cholera was not the only insidious nature to visit the people but a wave of murders struck without reason. A past crime, the Ra
May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Find the enhanced version of this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

A few weeks ago a friend came over for dinner and seeing me sprawled out on our couch, book in hand, astutely asked what I was reading. A slow smile crept across my lips as I considered my response. I had to be careful. I was hanging on every word of the deliciously dark historic thriller, in love with every lurid detail, but how best to explain my enthusiasm for a book on sadistic serial killer left
Patrice Hoffman
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
From the author who has given the world an iconic hero we all know as Rambo based off the action novel First Blood, we have his latest Murder As a Fine Art. David Morrell is an accomplished writer who has a strong following that I am happy to be a member of. I haven't read any historical fiction thriller by Morrell before by I think he's done a great job at a genre I hold near and dear to my heart.

Murder As a Fine Art is the fictional story of Thomas De Quincey who is famous for his memoir Conf
I've been a fan of David Morrell since the first time I read him, which was Double Image. Murder as a Fine Art did not disappoint.

The research into 1854 London and before, specifically the Radcliffe Highway Murders, was excellent. What wasn't true to form the author noted in his Afterword. The fictional story of real-life author Thomas DeQuincey and his daughter, Emily, weaved into this novel was quite good! So not only was I entertained by the story (and on the edge of my seat for most of it s
Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
I could not put this amazing book down. I read it over a few hours, still reading it at 3am unable to put it away. Full review to come.
May 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel set in Victorian London uses Thomas De Quincey, controversial author of "Confessions of an English Opium-Easter" and "On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts" as the central character in this novel. De Quincey's essay, "On Murder..." dramatised the infamous Ratcliffe Highway killings which terrorised the country in 1811, when the inhabitants of both a shop and a tavern were murdered viciously. Now it is 1854 and De Quincey and his daughter, Emily, are staying in London at the req ...more
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019
An essay written about past crimes may have created a copycat beast.

I am not going to point fingers here but one of you wrote a really awesome review for a book that truly sucks a big fat one. Your top-notch review writing skills led me to believe this read was worth my time and it was most certainly not. I want to be mad at you but can’t because let’s be honest, you are amazeballs. You wrote a review that became its own story and that was the book I wanted and expected to read. My ass is be
Jul 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Stacey
In a word...brilliant!
Thomas De Quincey who wrote "On Murder" describing in detail the 1811 Ratcliffe Highway murders is embroiled in a series of copycat killings in 1850s London.

A friend told me that great historical fiction should make you want to study more on the period. I certainly do...Loved it! David Morrell truly brings 1850s London back to life!
Aug 15, 2013 rated it did not like it
Wow, this was a truly frustrating read for me. On the one hand, I was immediately drawn into the story after the first chapter. I thought it was superbly written and hit on all the notes that one would expect of a Victorian England set murder mystery. Combine that with a very intriguing premise and I was all in. Unfortunately, it was, save for a few action sequences, mostly downhill from there IMO.

First the good – as I mentioned above, this started off with a bang and I flew through the opening
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
2.5 stars.

Features nuanced portrait of Thomas de Quincey, the "English Opium-Eater," but also non-fiction intermingled with the novel (I guess that's one way of preventing "As you know, Bob," syndrome - but it's disconcerting for the reader), and a nascent love triangle.

For a further review: .
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Historical novel at its best! I really loved details of Victorian London life, British opium mission, Thomas De Quincey life. In his post scriptum writer says he was researching for a year, and reader can feel it.
Minus one for revealing who is the main culprit so early
Janette Fleming
Sep 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing

Thomas & Emily de Quincey
Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his memoir Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, is the major suspect in a series of ferocious mass murders identical to ones that terrorized London forty-three years earlier.

The blueprint for the killings seems to be De Quincey's essay "On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts." Desperate to clear his name but crippled by opium addiction, De Quincey is aided by his devoted daughter Emily and a pair of determined Scotland Yard detectives.

In Murder as a Fine A
Jonathan Janz
Jun 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Meticulously-researched, richly-described, and not-as-hyphenated-as-this-short-review, MURDER AS A FINE ART is a worthy entry into the diverse canon of one of our most reliable writers. David Morrell's historical murder mystery is definitely worth your time. Also, check out THE TOTEM and FIRST BLOOD, which are both outstanding. ...more
This hardcover book is copy 274 of 500 copies signed and numbered by David Morrell.
Bishop Harber
May 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Honestly, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about Murder as a Fine Art. I don't normally find historical fiction to be all that interesting. Indeed, some of the complaints I have about the novel are in the execution of the historical details.

But I find myself—having started this book nearly 10 hours ago—captivated by the story. I fear that I have neglected those who rely on me at work for having spent the entire day reading in-between moments of busyness. I'm thankful for a partner who made dinn
This was a well researched book and the author uses an actual multiple murder case from England's past to set the stage for copycat killings 43 years later. He also uses a real life figure and near life long opium addict, Thomas De Quincey, as the main protagonist. The story is told in third person though there are also some parts that are relayed in third person omniscient and these parts come across like the narration for a documentary on Victorian life. Then there are sections that are presen ...more
Heather Fineisen
Dec 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, 2013-bought
The historical references and the journal of Emily De Quincey were well done. Morrell would please many readers by bringing these well written characters back to the page for more crime solving adventures. A gruesome yet fun romp through Victorian London through the eyes of "The Opium Eater" and his plucky daughter. If they return, I will be along for the ride... ...more
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: a-z-challenge
Somehow I managed to read the second book in this series first. It did make it a little hard to read just because I knew how it ended.
That being said, I really enjoy the story and appreciated the attempt at the historical portrayal of that time in London.
I am looking forward to the next one.
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure whether to give this 4 or 5 stars...

At the end of this book, Mr Morrell tells us that for two years he ‘lived in the London of 1854’ in order to fully understand it would be like to live in that time and I have to say, he weaves a fantastically detailed tapestry.

Unfortunately he doesn’t do it seamlessly. He uses every opportunity to deliver a history lesson which isn’t carefully interwoven into the story, more ‘bolted-on’. It becomes a little tiresome at times.

However, this is a wo
Dec 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: suspense
Atmospheric. Dark. Gripping.

Morrell transports the reader to Victorian London in a manner worthy of Dickens and Wilkie Collins.

Thomas DeQuincey, notorious for his confession as an opium eater, is the prime suspect when murders repeat his depiction of crimes 40 years in the past. But his powers of deduction (and his shockingly modern daughter) soon impress Ryan and Becker, the chief investigators, and it is through his influence the killer is finally revealed.

The character I most wanted to smack
 Reading Reindeer 2021 On Proxima Centauri
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Reading Reindeer 2021 On Proxima Centauri by: NetGalley
Review of Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell
5 stars

“Murder as a Fine Art” is a compelling and engrossing mystery, a suspenseful thriller as only author David Morrell can deliver. I truly felt as if I was an active observer in the events, living in this era, as mid-19th century London is so vividly detailed and brought to vivid life through art. In 1854 in London, a series of murders commences, and the unknown murder (in whose mind we walk) considers himself an artist. Indeed, he constantly pl
Megan L (Iwanttoreadallthebooks)
3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

I commend David Morrell for his intensive research on his book Murder as a Fine Art. I love historical fiction but too often I find that authors are not able to create the appropriate atmosphere of the place and time period they are writing about. Morrell completely nailed it on atmosphere. I really feel that Morrell transported me to 19th century England. He also successfully followed the style of "sensation" novels that were so popular in the time period.
I enjoyed th
Well-written and populated with some memorable characters, this was a mystery with strong roots in historical accuracy. However, all those historical anecdotes slowed down the actual mystery.

And four leading characters was at least one too many. DeQuincey was a Sherlockian detective who more than fancied his drug of choice— laudanum. He was the true detective but it was nearly a quarter of the book in before that became evident.

Really well-crafted villain— even if the reader guessed the identi
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a delicious book because the author, David Morrell, researched the social and cultural practices of the different classes in that particular time period and place (London, 1854) so well and because the actual historical figure he chose to be the central character is such a fascinating man: Thomas De Quincey, author of Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. We also get Detective Ryan, Constable Becker, and De Quincey's straightforward, bloomer-wearing daughter Emily integrated in as impor ...more
Fredrick Danysh
Jan 27, 2017 rated it liked it
In Victorian England someone is committing horrible mass murders patterned after similar crimes 43 years earlier. Inspector Ryan, Constable Beecker, and the writer of essays on murder along with his daughter attempt to solve the puzzle preventing more deaths. The author addresses the moral and social conditions of the period, especially the use of opium.
Feb 13, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Review first published on BookLikes:

I love the cover of this book! Murder as a Fine Art has been on my "currently reading" shelf for months just so I could admire the cover art.

I also love the premise of Thomas De Quincey (the author best known for Confessions of an English Opium Eater) investigating a murder in Victorian London.

A premise like this just screams "fun read", I thought. And then I got stuck just 23% into the book.


1. Even though the i
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
I had such a flippin' great time with this book. From the first page, I was sucked in, and the only reason I didn't finish this one in a day is that I made myself slow down and enjoy the journey -- I could have taken another 300 pages and been only slightly satisfied.

Set in 1854, the novel opens with 'the artist', a violent serial killer bent on replicating -- and improving upon -- a series of violent murders from 1811.  (And ew, are they grim.)  For the police and the London public, these crime
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David Morrell is a Canadian novelist from Kitchener, Ontario, who has been living in the United States for a number of years. He is best known for his debut 1972 novel First Blood, which would later become a successful film franchise starring Sylvester Stallone. More recently, he has been writing the Captain America comic books limited-series The Chosen.

Other books in the series

Thomas De Quincey (3 books)
  • Inspector of the Dead (Thomas De Quincey, #2)
  • Ruler of the Night (Thomas De Quincey #3)

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