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Unseemly Science

(Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire #2)

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  1,161 ratings  ·  168 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
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…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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Unseemly Science picks up not long after the events of The Bullet Catcher's Daughter. There are several plotlines going, a few which tie together and some that are left open by the end. It has to leave us wanting more right? While I enjoyed this installment I felt that the first book had more oomph but I definitely plan to continue reading. But I must say the promise of romance went largely unfulfilled. I thought I saw a mention of romance somewhere in a blurb or in the cover...maybe I'm mistake ...more
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 fitting cover
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!
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
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 window
Yvette - Bookworlder
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 way to see a ha/>Unseemly
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
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
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

More reviews at the Online Eccentric Librarian

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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 book. This is a worthy second volume in
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
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 th
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
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
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 placed pretty high on Elizabet
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 a
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) chillin ...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 g
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 o
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 p
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 especia
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
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
Dec 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
(Full review will be up on my blog soon)

This is the second book in the "Fall of The Gas-Lit Empire" series.
Elizabeth is pulled into even more trouble. But what do you expect?

All I can say is this book is so fantastically written that I spent most of the reading experience forgetting that I was actually reading.

This book has proved to me that it is possible for sequels to actually be good.
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.
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
1/9/16 $1.99 for Kindle, $3.49 to add Audible
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.
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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

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)
“For good or ill, knowledge has ever threatened the settled order. A keg of gunpowder may make matchwood of a sturdy house. But a book can set the world on fire.” 1 likes
“It was to dispel the smog of superstition and prejudice that we pulled the churches down. Now that work is done, let us build libraries in their stead.” 1 likes
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