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Unseemly Science

(Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire #2)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,290 ratings  ·  183 reviews
In the divided land of England, Elizabeth Barnabus has been living a double life - as both herself and as her brother, the private detective. Witnessing the hanging of Alice Carter, the false duchess, Elizabeth resolves to throw the Bullet Catcher's Handbook into the fire, and forget her past. If only it were that easy!

There is a new charitable organisation in town, run by
Paperback, 368 pages
Published May 5th 2015 by Angry Robot
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Rod Duncan Thank you so much for your kind question. I am writing book three right now: The Custodian of Marvels. As you know, the series title is 'The Fall of t…moreThank you so much for your kind question. I am writing book three right now: The Custodian of Marvels. As you know, the series title is 'The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire'. Book three will take us to a conclusion of several story threads that have been running through the earlier books. But the Gas-Lit Empire will not have fallen. There is definitely more story to tell. :)(less)
Rod Duncan That is indeed the cover that will be used in the US. The designer is a genious IMO.

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Talitha (Victorian Soul)
Unseemly Science doesn't begin with the bullet-like plot trajectory seen in The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter. There's more complexity to the story because of some of the events of the first book. Although it wasn't a slow beginning, it lacked the instantaneous hook the previous book had, and adds more grim moments when you wonder how much of the first book's joie de vivre was due in part to Elizabeth's outlook.

The cover of this book should tell you a lot about it- I haven't encountered a more fitti
Review to come shortly over on Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing- needless to say I loved this. It was a great change of pace from my usual reads with just enough of the fantastical to keep me interested. A steampunk style mystery that favours story and plotting over steampunk aesthetic trappings it was a refreshing read. Slower paced and less of the no holds barred adventure that the UF and action-adventure readers out there are used to but definitely worth picking up and trying. The main female ...more
Richard Derus
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Rating: 4.5* of five

Well, that was clumsy of me. I managed to delete the link to my real review of this delightful book! It is here.

2017 UPDATE The first book in the new series featuring Elizabeth Barnabus, titled The Queen of All Crows, arrives at Author Duncan's home! Watch the Big Moment here!
Mar 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Unseemly Science returns us to the captivating world introduced by Rod Duncan in The Bullet-Catchers Daughter. After her narrow escape from the Kingdom, Elizabeth Barnabus has found refuge in the Republic and a close friend in her student, Julia Swain.

Difficulties soon arise. Rumors say there is to be an extradition treaty signed by the Republic and the Kingdom. Republic officials are requiring Kingdom immigrants to check in weekly with police, and post identification on their windows. As indent
Mar 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This second entry in The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series is well worth the read. Elizabeth Barnabus, intelligence gatherer and fugitive from justice, returns as the narrator and main character. Also returning are various characters including Julia Swain, now more friend than pupil and proving herself to be a worthy partner in intrigue for Elizabeth.

Unseemly Science picks up some few months after the end of The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter, with Elizabeth again dressed as her twin brother on her w
Mar 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
The continuation of The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter might not be as flashy as some other steampunk novels, but it's solid as a rock.

They say the devil is in the details, and the sinister feel of Unseemly Science is perfectly shown with minute details. It's very visual, with an underlying sense of urgency and terror driving the plot. I would even call it a Gothic novel akin to Ripper series by Amy Carol Reeves.

Elizabeth is on the run again. The Republic and The Kingdom are on the brink of signing
Frank Errington
May 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Review Copy

Unseemly Science is the followup to the well-received first book in the series The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire. In both books there are some elements of Steampunk, certainly an element of Alternate History, and the feel of a classic Sherlock Holmes story as told by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Rod Duncan continues to weave these elements deftly into a wonderous tale of mystery and intrigue.

Slipping back into the world Rod Duncan has created for his characters to play in was a bit like putti
Wing Kee
Dec 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Better, more focused and paced better.

World: The world building is good, it's the best thing about this series. It's dense, it's detailed and the England created here and the world here is interesting with the changes in history. I will say that being a steampunk book there is not a lot of that here at all which is disappointing, plus Duncan seems to mix up steampunk with mad science (although they are similar they are slightly different).

Story: I liked this story a lot more than the first one,
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, fantasy
Describing this book as steam-punk is not exactly accurate, as the author does a masterful job of convincing the reader that you just happened to have landed yourself in the middle of a world where some forms of technology have developed to the current age, and yet men and women are walking around in close-to-Victorian garb. Some parts of this story are to be expected -- a country divided in half by a wall where life develops in different places on different parts of the wall. In our part of the ...more
Online Eccentric Librarian
Mar 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, au, steampunk

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Unseemly Science continues the engaging story of Elizabeth Barnabus as she struggles to survive a steampunk Britain. This time, aided and abetted by friend/tutor Julia and orphan Tinker, her 'brother's' investigations will take a macabre turn. At the same time, political machinations will greatly put Elizabeth's safety in jeopardy. The writing is as crisp, worldbuilding deep, and characters as nuanced as the first boo
Stephanie Swint
Apr 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Even better than the first - which I thought was unlikely. Rod Duncan's Elizabeth is a wonderful character. My fingers are itching to pick up the third book but I need to delay ...
Corey Bedford
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I'll say it again, I really wish I had picked up this series earlier. It was always on my "must-read" shelves but it kept getting pushed further back. Such a mistake on my part. It is just a refreshing twist on Victorian Steampunk, dystopian present day mystery (oh, what a mouthful and that doesn't even explain it all 🤔). There's the strong female lead, mystery and intrigue with a hint of mysticism just verging on magic. This story is a little on the macabre-side, but so good as it deleves furth ...more
Originally posted at:

Last year saw Rod Duncan's first fantasy novel, The Bullet-Catchers Daughter, after having written four hard crime novels. This was one of my favourite book of 2014 in the Steampunk category. The Bullet-Catchers Daughter for me was a perfect mixture of the normal and the arcane. The whole setting and ambiance that Rod Duncan had created with Elizabeth Barnabus was just a pleasure to read. In this second book that stakes are once again
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
I read the first Elizabeth Barnabus book some time ago, but I was surprised how much of it I'd retained in my mind when I started in on the sequel. Post revolution the country is split into two, roughly north and south with the south ruled by aristocrats, and the repressed north very puritan-like. Elizabeth Barnabus, brought up in a travelling circus in the south, has fled to the north to escape being sold to the Duke of Northampton. Women have no standing in northern society, so - a mistress of ...more
Ruthie Jones
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-book
I read The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter in 2015, so it took me a little bit to become reacquainted with the characters. Once I settled in, I was hooked!

Elizabeth Barnabus is one of my favorite female protagonists. She's brilliantly flawed, but her gritty determination, loyalty, and fearlessness when pursuing justice make her unforgettable.

Unseemly Science definitely has some unseemly science. No spoilers! Elizabeth's journey to expose this unseemliness is filled with determining who to trust and n
M. Jones
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Initially, I wasn't sold on the plot of this sequel to the excellent The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter. Elizabeth Barnabus remains an engaging heroine, voiced to perfection in the audiobook by Gemma Whelan, but the machinations surrounding what is effectively a nascent women's rights movement in the supposedly egalitarian Anglo-Scottish Republic seemed a little slow. Well-written and well-plotted, just slow. That all picks up in the second half of the book, which sees a truly exciting and (literally ...more
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A worthy sequel. Everything I lauded on the first volume is still - in some cases even more - valid here.

Elizabeth is caught in another web of crime and mystery and stays very much in character in narrating it. We get a really insightful amount of further worldbuilding and it's everything as perfect as in it's predecessor.

So, why only 4 stars? For one, can anybody explain to me, what the Kingdom gets out of this exchange treaty? I understand the movtives of the Republic: they get rid of their "m
Elaine Aldred
May 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Elizabeth Barnabus is making her way in a divided England by spending part of the time pretending to be a detective brother she doesn’t have in order to avoid the attentions of the authorities. When her student and friend Julia Swain goes to work for a charity whose leader does not ring true for Elizabeth, it is not long before she sets off to follow in Julia’s wake to assist her. This situation would be perilous enough, but in the meantime Elizabeth also becomes a wanted felon.
The world of alte
Jan 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Having loved the first book, The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter, I was a little nervous about the second - could it be as good as the first? Short answer - Yes!

The return to the duallife of Elizabeth Barnabus continues to highlight the differences between the Kingdom and The Republic. Only now something serious threatens the safety of all exiles - an extradition treaty, returning exiles to either side. In the lead up, exiles must identify their premises with a sticker, and check in with police regula
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
I basically started reading this second installment almost immediately after finishing "The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter." It was definitely darker in tone and plot as Elizabeth persevered from one exploit to another. She may be more cynical than her friend, Julia, but well-deservedly so given what she's been through. Yet, despite the machinations set against her, she maintains her wit and her poise. Her intellect shines through, proving her to be a woman of indomitable spirit.

Once again, I found
Feb 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable enough sequel to The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter, in fact I think I liked it a little better than the original.

Elizabeth becomes a fugitive when the Republic signs an extradition treaty with the Royalists, nonetheless she doggedly insists on pursuing a case for her friend that initially seems to be nothing more than some ice miners in the mountains being cheated out of income, and evolves into something a bit more sinister.

I like Duncan' alternate world of divided Britain and especially
Sep 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Another awesome showing. The plot, lore, and characters continue to be excellent. Something I really admire about this author is his ability to combine and reimagine different detective and speculative fiction tropes into something that's new and engaging. I think the pacing suffered a bit in this installment compared to the last, but that's the only change in quality. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.

EDIT: Apparently I received a free ARC of this novel through First Reads, but didn't realize it
Roo MacLeod
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As good as the first in this series.

This is a great read. I fell in love with miss Barnabus in the first novel and she rises with a feisty grit in this second tale. Still wanted by the duke for a position of servitude, Elizabeth enrolls her best friend to help with a case . when she is captured and detained for deportation, she vows to find who is following her, who wants her deported so badly and why. The case and her betrayal cross as does a problem with ice quotas and missing bodies. Vague e
Brianne Reeves
Apr 16, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I had a fun time with this one. It follows Elizabeth after the first book. Now an extradition agreement threatens her safety and she has to win over a politician with the power to help her. It's a lot darker than the first one with more violence.

What I really wish was present in the book is a counter POV, ideally Farthings. I think it would balance the story. Some things feel a bit unforshadowed and that would be solved with John as a counterbalance
Kim Power
May 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A labrythine mystery

Elizabeth is caught up again in mystery and murder. And on the run still from the Duke of Northumberland. This seems to me to be a bleaker novel than the first, and, indeed, betrayal compounds betrayal. Best to read volume 1 first, although the author fills in some of the backstory. Well written and edited, Elizabeth's story will continue I hope in another book.
Stephanie Crawford
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I loved how this ended. This one really ramped up the creepy and the adventure.
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Good read! Much darker than the first book! Body snatching!
1/9/16 $1.99 for Kindle, $3.49 to add Audible
The nitty-gritty: Happily, more of the wonderful character of Elizabeth Barnabus, but ultimately, a plot that sputtered along slowly until it picked up at the end.

**Mild, unavoidable spoilers ahead for those who haven't read The Bullet Catcher's Daughter.

I dove into Unseemly Science, eager to get back into the appealing steampunk world that Duncan began in The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter. Alas, this second installment just didn't work as well for me as the first book. I hesitate to say it suffered
Sep 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Unseemly Science, by Rod Duncan, picks up some time after the first novel in the Gas-Lit Empire series, The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter. Private investigator Elizabeth Barnabas is muddling along when a new law is passed that could send her straight back to the Kingdom she fled as a teenager. As if this weren't complication enough, Elizabeth is also drawn into a strange case of missing ice in Derbyshire that becomes a lot deadlier than it has any right to be...

Read the rest of my review at A Bookis
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Sep 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I devoured this book. It was everything I wanted in a sequel and more. I'm even more in love with the character of Elizabeth and the unfolding world around her.
Things I like: the lack of a in-your-face love story. Elizabeth simply had too much on her plate at the moment and even though a person of interest is in her life, he's not there to complete it. Also, this is my first ever steampunk series, and I'm normally turned off by the genre but Duncan's world is so tastefully done and believable.
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I'm really looking forward to reading this!!! Can't wait.
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Nov 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Really loved the story, this is second is a series of 3. It is a very good idea to read the first book, The Bullet Catchers Daughter, before reading this book. It met all my expectations, good story, well written, great characters. Looking forward to reading the 3rd.
marked it as to-read
Dec 03, 2014
Dec 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Took a while for the story to really pull its threads together and at points lacked the focused pace of the first, but man! is it worth it. A very engaging read and one I am a little sad to have finished the day after it was released. That means I have almost as long as is chronologically possible to wait for the next installment. Damn.
Dec 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Goodness gracious, can't wait for the third novel... I hope that John Farthing will feature a more prominent role next book! (view spoiler)

More interlaced than the first novel, I was pulled along Elizabeth's quest into the unseemly side of proper Republic society and filled with empathy for the poor woman who is so tired of running. She is brilliant though, never giving up her desperate fight for fr
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Rod Duncan worked in scientific research and computing before settling in Leicester to be a writer. His first novel, Backlash, was short-listed for the John Creasey Memorial Award (now the CWA Debut Dagger).

After four crime novels he switched to fantasy. The Bullet Catcher's Daughter was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award. He is currently writing a series of alternate history books, called ‘Th

Other books in the series

Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire (3 books)
  • The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter (Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire, #1)
  • The Custodian of Marvels (Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire, #3)

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