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Thomas De Quincey #2

Inspector of the Dead

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The year is 1855. The Crimean War is raging. The incompetence of British commanders causes the fall of the English government. The Empire teeters. Amid this crisis comes opium-eater Thomas De Quincey, one of the most notorious and brilliant personalities of Victorian England. Along with his irrepressible daughter, Emily, and their Scotland Yard companions, Ryan and Becker, De Quincey finds himself confronted by an adversary who threatens the heart of the nation.

This killer targets members of the upper echelons of British society, leaving with each corpse the name of someone who previously attempted to kill Queen Victoria. The evidence indicates that the ultimate victim will be Victoria herself.

352 pages, Hardcover

First published March 24, 2015

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About the author

David Morrell

226 books1,426 followers
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.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 399 reviews
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 2 books247k followers
January 7, 2019
”In the murderer worthy to be called an artist, there rages some great storm of passion---jealousy, ambition, vengeance, hatred---which creates a hell within him.”
---Thomas De Quincey
“On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth

 photo Laudanum_zpseorh488d.jpg

I must make a full confession; I read this book and wrote this review without being under the influence of laudanum. There is a possibility, because I read this book completely (well reasonably so) sober, that I may have missed some nuances that may have made perfect sense if I had been taking nips from a bottle of opiates. Please forgive my abstinence.

The story begins with a murder most foul. Lady Cosgrove is murdered in the Church of St. James in her pew without anyone seeing the murder. ”Up and back went Lady Cosgrove’s head, and now the vicar saw her mouth, but the mouth became wider and deeper---and great heaven, that wasn’t Lady Cosgrove’s mouth. No mouth was ever that wide and red.” It isn’t just murder; it is a vicious, passionate, evisceration of a human being. Previous to the murder, the congregation was all a twitter (people whispering to one another not tweeting) about the arrival at the church of the diminutive opium eater Thomas De Quincey.

De Quincey might be the only author actually held hostage by a publisher until he produced a work to be published. Not that we can blame the publisher. De Quincey had a way of convincing one publisher to give him money for his scribbles to only turn around and sell his finished work to yet another publisher. He fully intended, of course, to produce a work to pay the initial debt, but funds became desperate, and he had to rob Peter so that he could get paid by Paul.

The congregation, whether they be those who were sitting on the cushy seats in the locked pews up front or the ordinary people sitting on the hard seats in the rear, should have felt some kinship with De Quincey for he did confess all his sins in rather dramatic fashion with the publication of his work Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. Was he contrite? Well, let us settle for honest.

 photo Thomas20de20Quincey_zpsl9zdmuts.jpg

He hasn’t given up laudanum. He has tried several times with disastrous results. His daughter Emily, who takes care of him as he dodges creditors long enough to keep his pen scratching, is generally the keeper of his ystical bottle. He is trapped by his addiction. He is no longer able to even attempt to break its devilish hold on his soul. ”He fingered his laudanum bottle as though it were a talisman, but the sadness of his expression made clear that the talisman had long ago lost its magic.”

Murder is a puzzle he is very familiar with. He wrote On Murder Considered one of the Fine Arts and so he knows the demons that grab hold of a man. He’s not just interested in ordinary murder, such as a scuffle between brothers that goes too far, or a wife bludgeoned by her husband for a perceived infidelity, or a husband with his wife’s scissors in his liver. No, there is no art in these murders, but murdering Lady Cosgrove in church, now there is murder as a fine art. When they discover that the whole Cosgrove household from maid to husband have been killed and left in demented, ritualistic poses, De Quincey knows he has found an insane mind

whose canvas is skin


whose paint is blood.

With the help of police detectives Ryan and Becker, De Quincey and his daughter try to unravel the mind and motivation of this vengeful killer before he manages to kill again. The fear and trepidation of these brutal murders reaches to the heights of Buckingham Palace. This is Victorian England, and there is an uneasy queen who has survived no less than seven assassination attempts. As clues compile and De Quincey’s unique logic begins to assemble the loose facts of the case, it becomes readily apparent that the murderer for his final performance must make a fiendish art of the queen herself.

 photo Queen20Victoria_zpss6tsobyv.jpg
Queen Victoria

David Morrell, in this second outing with this most unusual detective, has once again effortless blended fiction and fact to bring to life a period of time that may have seemed strait laced and proper on the surface, but lurking beneath the perfume and tea time at three was a world of murder and vice.

You might also be interested in my review of Murder as a Fine Art Review

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for Linda.
1,193 reviews1,243 followers
March 21, 2017
" I understand, but as Mr. De Quincey often reminds me, reality is different for different people."

And to view life from behind the eyes of the unbalanced must be a horrifying experience that quivers the mind with every full-out scene. Especially front and center: the unraveling of the controlled to the state of becoming undone.

David Morrell presents his second book in the Thomas De Quincey series. De Quincey and his daughter, Emily, have once again been caught up in a continuous chain of murders in Victorian London. This time the victims are from the upper rankings of London society which shocks those of privilege. They are also assisted by their Scotland Yard companions, Detectives Becker and Ryan.

Since their last encounter, De Quincey and Emily, are staying at the home of Lord Palmerston who has since grown weary of De Quincey's laudanum requirement even though De Quincey had saved his life. Morrell adds a bit of humor to the constant banter between the two men. But there is certainly no jovial tone to the brutal murders that will lead this odd little group all the way to Queen Victoria and her husband, Albert.

What lurks here is the heavy-weighted reality of someone's undying flame of the passion of revenge. A clever mind has scripted and designed every footplacement leading to the queen herself. And who bears such hatred all the way to the monarchy, and furthermore, why?

Morrell stretches that aforementioned reality here. We are caught up in a world of extremely strange happenings and imaginings. We must also suspend belief a bit in which the evil doer is on hyper-drive. This second book in the series is quite different from the first and the third, although murder is placed on the half shell and served extremely cold.

Morrell never lets you down with his superb writing and his flawless research of times spent in the wee hours surrounded by London fog and eerie shadows. It's the stillness of the late night that gets you every time.
Profile Image for Jenna .
137 reviews181 followers
April 2, 2015
Before reading, Inspector of the Dead, I had never read a book by David Morrell. I plan to read many more. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this second book in a series (but great as a stand alone) about Thomas De Quincey, a man plagued by an addiction to laudanum during a time when no one knew of such addictions and viewed dependence as a choice. Most looked down on him for his intake of large doses but in truth he needed those doses to function.

Being on such a drug, De Quincey was constantly questioning reality and would often question whether it existed only in our minds or outside of us. He also had a knack for using this theory to solve murder mysteries by looking at the reality of situations from a completely different angle. He would at times express philosophical tidbits that made me pause and go “hmmm…” One quote I particularly liked was,
“There’s no such thing as forgetting. The inscriptions on our memories remain forever just as the stars seem to withdraw during daylight but emerge when the darkness returns.”

As a whole, I found this book to be engaging from the start. It was very well crafted at building suspense and at one point I could feel my pulse quicken. The dialogue was great and far from arbitrary, it was direct and to the point- never once pulling me away from the story. I also found it interesting that the story would shift from third-person omniscience to journals that were action-filled in first-person viewpoint. At first the journals were tough to get into but as the book went along, I rather enjoyed the change of view.

One thing that I want to point out is how I was able to both empathize and find disgust in one or two of the characters simultaneously. I think it takes a very talented author to pull off such a feat. The author also did a great job of unfolding information at just the perfect moments so that I was never bored or felt tricked in any way. Instead, I felt as though I was part of the story, observing everything from a distance as it happened, therefore, I plan to go back and read the first book. I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,318 reviews4,839 followers
October 3, 2021

In this 2nd book in the 'Thomas De Quincey' mystery series, the opium eater/detective is on the trail of a murderer who's threatened the Queen. The book can be read as a standalone.


This story takes place in 1850s London, just when England's government is collapsing because of the Crimean War. Bizarre, horrific murders are occurring among London's elite and a message is left at each crime scene that seems to threaten the life of Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria

It soon becomes clear that the perpetrator of the crimes is seeking revenge for something that happened to his mother, father, and two sisters many years before.

In an effort to catch the perpetrator and protect the Queen the crimes are investigated by two amateur detectives, Thomas De Quincey (the famous 'English opium eater') and his daughter Emily; and two Scotland Yard detectives, Becker and Ryan. Though the team is unconventional the members work well together, with knowledge and skills that are complementary.

David Morrell skillfully depicts the ambiance of London at the time, both the filth and squalor of the slums and the wealth and elegance of the ritzy neighborhoods.

London slum

London ritzy neighborhood

He also includes a good chunk of authentic London history (according to his own essay at the end of the book). The rich, aristocratic people of the time apparently believed that 'their class' never committed violent crimes and consistently blamed the poor, especially the unwelcome Irish immigrants.

During the course of their inquiries De Quincey and Emily - who have known lifelong hunger and poverty - get to purchase some new duds (albeit funereal wear) and have dinner with the Queen and Prince Albert. This is an amusing scene during which Emily, fearing she and her laudanum-addicted father would be thrown out sooner rather than later - tries to eat as quickly and as much as possible.

For the most part, though, the story is gritty and violent, with the murderer pursuing his agenda and British nobleman (literally) fighting between themselves over a woman.

The book alternates points of view between the murderer and the third person narrator, and contains excerpts from Emily's journal. The reader, therefore, has a good idea of what's going on in everyone's mind. For the first two-thirds or so the book is suspenseful and compelling with plenty of action. The story then reaches a climax after which it takes too many chapters to wrap up. Moreover several of the story points that emerge in the final chapters are not believable, culminating in an unsatisfying ending. All in all I'd say this book works better for its history than its mystery.

You can follow my reviews at http://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot.com/
Profile Image for Patrice Hoffman.
552 reviews256 followers
March 11, 2015
When I found out there would be another book in this series featuring the Opium Eater Thomas De Quincey, his brilliant and beautiful daughter Emily, and their Scotland Yard buddies Ryan and Becker I quickly grovelled and begged for Netgalley to provide me with a copy. Inspector of the Dead begins with the death of a prominent woman in a very public place named Lady Cosgrove. She is found with a note in the her pocket that reads "Young England". This group is known for being against the monarch hoping to someday overthrow the government.

As the investigation progresses, there are more attacks and deaths on prominent persons in London with notes left on them naming others who have attempted to assassinate the queen. Being a genius on the subject of murder as a fine art, De Quincey was able to deduce that the Queen may be the true target of all these murders.

De Quincey and crew investigate past attempts as well as possible suspects. We learn through their travels just how rudimentary the legal system was at that time. It's people such as Becker and Ryan who suggested incorporating the many things I'm sure are taken for granted. Such as taking pictures of the crime scene or at least preserving the scene. And gratefully Morrell doesn't allow this novel to move at a pace that makes you feel every inconvenience of being set in Victorian England. I barely noticed that it would have been helpful to have a cell phone in order to tell the Queen to hide.

Morrell kept me glued to this novel and I enjoyed it just as much as Murder As a Fine Art. The idea that not much has changed in regards to human nature to wear disguises to often times be who we aren't or to make the appearance of being more important than we are. Even De Quincey admits he's fallen victim to being a person who knows that his name bares more weight in certain circles. That is why he added the "De" before Quincey. The suspect in this novel uses disguises to work his way into a society he didn't belong. And he's pretty smart I tell ya. I really dig this guy.

One other thing worth mentioning is that I really enjoy getting into the characters heads. Emily's diary entries provide a lot more depth into her character and the relationship she has with the two inspectors Ryan and Becker. We also get to peer into the mind of the killer in an effort to understand what he's thinking and why he's doing what he's doing. The only characters who take a backseat in this title are Becker and Ryan. I would have liked more from them but... they aren't the stars. Thomas De Quincey is. He's a character based on a real man so it's interesting that Morrell has given him such depth and allows him to be likable instead of stagnant.

Overall, I'm a bonafide fan of this Thomas De Quincey series. Inspector of the Dead is fast paced, absorbing, and just a good ol' fun read. Traipsing around the dark and murky corners of Victorian England is always a good time. I hope David Morrell graces us with more installations to this De Quincey series. He is one of my favorite authors so even if there is never another Opium eater, I will definitely be reading more. Inspector of the Dead encourages me to see past the disguise and realize people are more than they appear to be.

Copy provided by Mulholland Books via Netgalley
Profile Image for Efka.
446 reviews250 followers
July 22, 2020
Antroji dalis visiškai niekuo nenusileidžia pirmai. Tiesą sakant, kadangi net ir veiksmo laikas skiriasi vos septyniomis savaitėmis, šią knygą galima lengvai suvokti kaip tiesiog dar vieną pirmos knygos skyrių. Gal kiek brutalesnį, kruvinesnį, bet iš principo niekuo nuo ankstesnių nesiskiriantį skyrių.

Džiugu, kad šioje knygoje autorius netgi rado laiko šiek tiek paplėtoti antraeilius personažus - iš dekoracijų jie level up'ino iki kaliausių. Taip pat visai logiškai ir aktualiai į siužetą kaip aktyvūs veikiantys personažai buvo įpinti ir karalienė V su princu Albertu. Irgi ne super sužavintis, bet visvien malonus momentas.

De Kvinsis ir toliau įspūdingas personažas - tiek įspūdingas, kad jau pradėjau GR'e žiūrinėti, ką jis parašęs ir netgi galvoti, jog būtų visai įdomu jį paskaitinėti. Tiesa, kadangi žmogelis didžiąją dalį gyvenimo buvo priklausomas nuo opijaus ir turėjo ne tik išlaikyti šeimą, bet dar ir iš kažko užsipirkti narkotiko, tai pasakyti, kad jis buvo aktyviai rašantis - nepasakyti nieko. De Kvinsio rinktiniai raštai yra išleisti viso labu niekingu DVIDEŠIMT VIENU tomu. Rinktiniai. Dvidešimt vienu... Ok. :)

O šiaip - ir vėl smagi ir gerai parašyta knyga. Tos pačios solidžios 4*.
Profile Image for Amy.
390 reviews41 followers
May 19, 2016
The story opens on a foggy late night in Victorian London. A mysterious stranger is walking the streets when he is attacked by a begger. The mysterious stranger makes quick work of his attacker, disarming and disabling in one swift movement. He then offers the begger a hefty fee to meet him at an address for the next day. Next scene, mysterious stranger is ringing the doorbell down the street and bashing in the head of the butler who answers the door. This book started out so great! Mystery, suspense and some great action sequences...and then we meet the cast of characters.

Unfortunately the characters were pretty two-dimentional and generic; The villains bordered on caricature. Detective Inspector Ryan and Sergeant Becker are the main investigators along with Thomas De Quincey, author and opium addict, and his daughter Emily, who assist the detectives. I did not realize that this book was the second in the series, so I'm still unsure how Thomas and Emily are given free reign to investigate, be privy to all confidential information and even visit Queen Victoria, several times! I'm also unsure of whose story this is. Most of the characters are given equal billing story-wise.

The book was written in the third person, with occasional journal entries of Emily's, which only served to continue the story in italic print instead of regular print. Any additional information we need as the reader was provided by the character, much like on a TV police procedural where a character explains step by step what and why they are doing something. Occasionally when a new character was introduced, the omniscient narrator would just dive into the part of the characters backstory to fit the plot. Basically, all of the writing mechanisms are all out on display here. In fact, the author even gives an explanation of how he wrote the book in his foreword. His personal references to emulating Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins actually made me cringe a little.

The only redeemable parts of the book were the action sequences. The main villain of the story dispatches his enemies like a Victorian era Jason Bourne, with inexhaustible energy and inventiveness, while running an underground organization wreaking havoc on the city. Considering the author was the creator of Rambo, I would expect nothing less of the combat scenes.

I have not read any of Morrell's other books, so I will reserve my judgement to this book only. The story was interesting enough for me to finish the book, but the writing mechanisms and "tricks" used made the book seem very amateurish and had me rolling my eyes often. I don't think I will be exploring this series any further.
Profile Image for Historical Fiction.
919 reviews577 followers
July 5, 2015
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

I was pretty excited about reading David Morrell's Inspector of the Dead. Books one of the Thomas De Quincey series, Murder As A Fine Art, was one of my favorite reads of 2013 and I was eager to dive into its sequel.

Like its predecessor, I quickly fell for the feel and atmosphere of the Morrell's England. The dark and gritty descriptions, paired with Thomas and Emily's unconventional lifestyle make highly entertaining material and like how the backdrop emphasizes the more sinister elements of the mystery at the heart of the story.

Morrell takes a couple of artistic liberties, but I found them highly appropriate to the story and actually liked the references to Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone. I also liked how Morrell used Queen Victoria and the numerous attempts on her life as a foundation for a much darker intrigue.

Genuinely thrilling and impossible to put down, Inspector of the Dead is an absolute must. A thoroughly satisfying read that kept me on the edge of my seat beginning to end.
Profile Image for John Warner.
739 reviews23 followers
January 26, 2020
My mother and father need help. My sisters need help. Please help my mother and father and sisters.

These words were spoken by a poor Irish boy running along side Queen Victoria's carriage as she exits Buckingham Palace, but to no avail. All, except the boy, die.

The boy, spurned by Victorian London, is now a man and begins a killing spree seeking to avenge a perceived injustice of the judicial system beginning with a prison administrator, a judge, and each one's respective family. It falls upon the infamous opium addict and Sherlockian Thomas de Quincey, his daughter Emily, and their Scotland Yard companions introduced in the books prequel, Detectives Ryan and Becker, to find the serial killer before others are murdered, including Queen Victoria.

Although I have read other books set in contemporary times by thriller writer David Morrell, this was the first historical mystery that I read by him. He portrayed Victorian London well, especially the disparity between the aristocratic and poorer social classes. I enjoyed the relationship between the historical figure de Quincey, author of Confessions of an English Opium Eater, and his daughter. As a protagonist, de Quincey was an excellent surrogate for Sherlock Holmes, who had his own addiction to cocaine. The novel, overall, was an excellent high-stakes chase through the streets of London for a man who maintained an vengeful heart for decades. Although this is the second in a series, it can be read as a standalone as I did. I now need to read the prequel.
Profile Image for Chris.
526 reviews82 followers
December 15, 2015
My favorite historical mystery series and it keeps getting better. Seriously, this series demonstrates how a historical mystery should be done. You drop down a rabbit hole and wander around in the damp dangerous world of Victorian England. The amount of research Mr. Morrell must have done is staggering, yet he weaves the historical elements and the lives of real people seamlessly into a breathtaking mystery thriller without sparing one ounce of tension.

Several times along the way I found myself stopping to delve into the historical story lines because Morrell made them so interesting.

Please, someone make this into a movie or, better yet, a series.

5 stars. 6 stars. However many—just read it.
Profile Image for Mark Rubinstein.
Author 22 books814 followers
March 31, 2015
David Morrell's sequel to Murder as a Fine Art is a thrilling, high-stakes tale about murder, detective work, social class, and very much more in Victorian London. I found this novel even more compelling than the first one. Someone is killing off the elite in London, and Thomas DeQuincey and his daughter become involved in solving the mystery of who is doing this and why it's being done. In fact, as each murder occurs, it becomes evident that Queen Victoria herself is going to be the ultimate target of the serial killer. Written in a style that takes you back to London in the mid 1850s, Inspector of the Dead is one of the best books I've read in a very long time. David Morrell has gone from First Blood (Rambo) to Victorian England, and in doing so, demonstrates his wide range of creative ability with these latest novels.

If you enjoy mystery, suspense, beautiful prose, and an atmospheric rendering of another time and place, this is the book to read.

Mark Rubinstein
Profile Image for Linette Marie Allen.
25 reviews5 followers
June 1, 2016
Like a perfect wine! I inhaled this mystery in about a week whilst frequenting my favorite coffee shop in London. A star shy of "5 stars" only because of the ending: it felt more like a circus trick and was not believable, in my view.
Profile Image for Albert.
1,425 reviews32 followers
June 7, 2015
Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell is book two in the Thomas De Quincey mystery series. We were first introduced to De Quincey in Morrell's Murder as a Fine Art and it is with no amount of small pleasure to see him returned to the dark and wet streets of London.

"...My God!' the vicar exclaimed.
Up and back went Lady Cosgrove's head, and now the vicar saw her mouth, but the mouth became wider and deeper-and great heaven, that wasn't Lady Cosgrove's mouth. No mouth was ever that wide and red.
Her throat was gashed from ear to ear, and her veiled face was now angled so far back that it stared impossibly toward the ceiling while the rest of her kept sinking.
The vicar lurched from the altar. Pointing in a frenzy, he saw that the scarlet pool was spreading even wider.
The gaping slit in Lady Cosgrove's throat grew wider also, deepening as her head tilted farther back, threatening to fall from her body.
The Reverend Samuel Hardesty screamed..."

It is in the year of 1855 and the Crimean War is raging. The incompetence of the British commanders has resulted in the fall of the English government. Queen Victoria finds her regency and her country in crisis. It is with backdrop that the notorious opium-eater Thomas De Quincey and his brilliant and forward thinking daughter Emily, find themselves facing a murderer whose work threatens the very nation during this troubled time. This killer is after members of the highest class in England, leaving the dead and their murdered families as well as he moves closer to his highest prize. With each killing the murderer leaves a reference to an assassin. A group of assassins who at one time or another, have tried to kill the Queen. Making it clear, that his final target is none other than Queen Victoria.

De Quincey is epitome of the outsider to Victorian English society. A confessed drug addict who struggles through his daily life as he continually feeds the opium into his system. His daughter Emily, struggling to control her father's addiction while trying to build her own life, knowing in her heart she can never leave him.

Morrell does an excellent job of painting a picture of a country on the abyss of the arrogance and stupidity of its military and the tentative grasp the monarchy holds on a failing government. The class system that England has lived under for so many years coming to a crest where the abuse and oppression of the poorer classes will no longer tolerate the prejudice and aristocracy. The killer steps into this time to take his own revenge. The serial murders of entire households of the rich terrorizes the city.

The Inspector of the Dead is a fast paced historical mystery that is richly detailed in setting and time. Well researched, Morrell tells a novel that is as thrilling as it is complex.

A terrific read!
Profile Image for Indrė.
94 reviews
July 22, 2019
3.5 stars.
My co-worker gave this to me saying that she found it by accident and actually really enjoyed it.
I mean, I have read way way worse detectives. This one's not that bad.
As a detective, the main character Thomas De Quincey is kind of odd. I can't say he's the best one and I sure can't say that I was extremely fond of him.
What I can say, is that I enjoyed the trill of the book. It had s few action-packed moments and for that I applaud it.
Profile Image for Alex .
256 reviews27 followers
June 17, 2015
Very exciting, amazing read!! Can't wait for the next one! Can I be best friends with De Quincey and Emily???! Also some really powerful moments!
577 reviews24 followers
March 9, 2015
Just finished reading Inspector of the Dead. I did get off to a bit of shaky start with this before I managed to get fully immersed but then it did hold my attention most successfully.

Set during the reign of Queen Victoria Inspector of the Dead is a crime/mystery story with a protagonist consumed with the desire for vengeance. The story is set during the Crimean War with many of the events, dates and places being based on real events.

The story gets off to a pretty immediate start with the death of a lady from the upper echelons of polite society – murdered in cold blood and apparently in full view of everyone attending Church! From there onwards the murder of society’s most prominent figures seems to spiral upwards and each death seems to deliver a grim message.

I’m not clear as to why this was a slow starter for me – it certainly wasn’t due to the lack of action or pacing. Maybe there was just too much going on and the police and others seemed to be running around like headless chickens – on reflection I think that was a very cunning ploy by the author to instil in the reader the same feelings of chaos and mayhem that the murderer was instilling in the people of London. At the time though I confess I was getting slightly irritated for some inexplicable reason.

Anyway, clearly I got over the feeling, as one minute I was considering not reading and the next I found myself nicely on the hook and turning the pages pdq.

As I mentioned above the main thrust of the story revolves around the desire for revenge. The victims start to deliver a picture of intent and it isn’t long before it becomes clear to those in authority that the Queen will be the final target.

Apparently this is the second book in the Thomas DeQuincey series – I haven’t read the first but I don’t think this was detrimental at all as the author has a pleasing style and the characters and place are easily conjured and each book is self contained.

The main character of course is DeQuincey. DeQuincey was notorious during the Victorian era – not only for writing a number of successful and revealing books but also for his prolific consumption of opium – for which he became known as ‘the opium eater’. Whether this habit gives him an increased clarity of mind or whether it simply increases his imagination is debatable by society but nobody can deny that he has a knack for looking at things in a logical fashion and cutting to the heart of the matter. The other characters are DeQ’s daughter Emily and two of Scotland Yard’s finest in Ryan and Becker. There are other characters on the outskirts but these are the main focus – along with the killer of course.

I can see that this would be an enjoyable series to read, just to read a standalone in a series is never as satisfying as reading from the beginning and picking up important details about the character and watch them develop and expand as you read is part of the enjoyment of a series. In that respect I would definitely continue with DeQuincey to see what comes next. I liked Emily – she knows her own mind and she’s not afraid to follow her own instincts even if that singles her out from the norm.

This book has a good pace, there are plenty of random little facts thrown in for good measure and a good build up of tension.

In terms of criticisms – well, I think it misses a trick in terms of using the Victorian era to better effect. It’s one of those periods in time that can have such a dark and creepy feel, Slums, dark alleys, pea soup fog, footsteps echoing behind a person – I didn’t quite get the spook factor that I would have liked in that respect although there was one particular scene where the murderer has literally closeted himself inside somebody’s house which was a bit chilling to say the least and definitely shone the spotlight on the murderer in all his incandescent rage! I was practically shouting at the book ‘run, get out’, ‘fly you fools’!!

All in all, after not the best start, I enjoyed this. It had that wonderful, over the top detective type feel that you would probably enjoy if reading a Sherlock Holmes story – where the baddies are just delightfully ‘bad’ and seem to be able to accomplish anything. Plus, I hand it to DM – i didn’t figure out the identify of the murderer – well, until about two seconds before the author decided to reveal it!

If you fancy a good murder/detective story with a crazy madman bent on destruction then I would recommend this.

I received a copy of this through the publishers courtesy of Netgalley for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.
Profile Image for Jeanette.
3,211 reviews551 followers
March 27, 2015
It's not the writing, the form, nor even the plot. But I just don't connect to these characters or this particular time period. Everyone seems either duplicitous, conniving, or with over-whelming habits of melodrama. Too many diva personalities or vapor prone victims become cartoonish, IMHO. And the Victorian asides re protection of women or children sensibilities also get tiring and redundant to read. All combine to keep me from imbedding into the entire scenario. Emily seems buried by her obligations and circumstances; Thomas De Quincey rather pompous and arrogant considering he's not easy company, IMHO. Rather like Sherlock Holmes, but without the youth or energy.

All would have equaled a three star for the positive meld of place and plot if it hadn't been so bloody. There's just too much havoc for motive or reactive reasons to maintain any tension for me.
Profile Image for Kay.
Author 11 books119 followers
August 23, 2015
This second book in the Thomas De Quincey is another unusual treat in the historical mystery/thriller genre. I loved it. It's vivid and chockfull of unusual details about the Victorian era. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Erin Al-Mehairi.
Author 12 books75 followers
March 30, 2015
What can you really say of David Morrell that isn’t great? He’s a master at all types of suspense and thriller books that he writes, including his newest foray into Victorian England with his Thomas De Quincey historical mysteries. First publishing Murder as a Fine Art in 2013, he’s now back with a sequel called Inspector of the Dead.

Morrell features his mysteries around Thomas De Quincey, known as the Opium-Eater, a man who wrote essays during this era where the dark, cobbled streets of London were ripe with addiction, lust, and murder. It’s said that he inspired Edgar Allan Poe, who in turn inspired Arthur Conan Doyle in his creation of Sherlock Holmes. He also struggled with opium addiction (it was legal in Britain at this time, but most people kept their use a secret), which caused him much strife in his life with dreams and nightmares. Morrell obviously has painstakingly researched the man and the time period, both in the fact that is historical revelations of this man and the creation of his character seem so vivid and authentic, as well as, his time period descriptions are atmospheric and captivating.

He seemed to have a lot of Victorian Era and Thomas De Quincey scholars and educators read through his book prior to publishing, which shows that he cares very much about getting it right for readers, whether its actually fiction or not. It’s historical fiction, and he doesn’t like to take many liberties with the man himself, but creates an accurate character based on his findings, set on a case that also surrounds real historical events that entertains and absorbs the reader into the book.

This time, a murderer is killing people and leaving notes on their bodies of those who have attempted to assassinate or overthrow Queen Victoria and evidence points that Queen Elizabeth might be the final target! It’s 1855 and the English government is already weakened by war, so the murderer must be stopped. De Quincey, who’s become quite the professional sleuth, his daughter Emily, and Scotland Yard detectives are on the move in order to stop this threat.

Morrell unravels the mystery of the murder with seamless ease, giving us clues and snippets, but leaving us hanging till the end. His pace, plotting, and placement of scenes and dialogue are intricately linked, making the readability of this novel very high and quite enjoyable. We see a portrait of a criminal consumed with jealously, rage, and hurt. Through Morrell’s writing, even though we don’t know the murderer, we can feel the depth of his heart on fire with the wrong type of passion. It’s ominous and ethereal in all the right ways for a novel in this fog-laden mystery.

As always, Morrell layers within his novel the social issue of class structure, as those being murdered are from upper society, while the criminal moves around into circles of higher class victims by wearing disguises. Don’t we all sometimes put on a “disguise” in order to fit in? Doesn’t our anger at not being included sometimes create anger or rage within us? De Quincey even tries to breaks the ideal norm by admitting his addiction publicly, as well as speaking to the point that he can do what he does better based on being in a better social station.

Morrell writes this novel from various view points of De Quincey, the suspect, Emily, and the Scotland Yard gents, Ryan and Becker. Sometimes this can catch readers off guard, but I think he constructed the novel in this vein flawlessly. He allowed us to feel better connected to the secondary characters, and sets up Emily to be a very independent heroine. As De Quincey is a bit Holmes like, Emily seems to be his Watson. She’s fierce, intelligent, and wholly my favorite character within the book.

Inspector of the Dead can be read stand alone, as Morrell does a nice joy of getting readers caught up with must know details, but reading Murder as a Fine Art will give you a more compelling view of Victorian London, where he really fleshes out the descriptions and presents the setting to us so vividly we feel as if we ourselves are hiding in the shadows. Though there are also amazing period details in the sequel, and vignettes of other new locations, such as homes of the weathly, prisons, asylums, and such. He’s also moved further past our surroundings and helped us to delve more into the characters and their relationships with each other and within society. The murders are gritty, grisly, and reminiscent of any within all those Jack the Ripper tales. Something about Victorian London is dark, grim, and creepy and Morrell doesn’t sway from that “lonely boot tap on stone street sound behind you”-type of affectation.

Overall, Inspector of the Dead’s action, details, and pace are likened to a screen script, which will leave you playing this out in your head with a clear picture. It will seep into you, making you feel frightened, quite possibly losing sleep, yet you’ll also feel part of the mystery-solving team. Have you heard of 3-D books? No? Well, David Morrell’s writing is as close as you’ll ever get.

Morrell once again mixes a recipe of authentic history, vaporous setting, refined plot, and fluid, steady action with on-point elemental social structure apportion. Highly recommended for those who like Victorian era murder mysteries like Sherlock Holmes, or possibly reminiscent Poe’s Dupin mysteries, a tad of Wilkie Collins, and the social intricacies and period details work of Charles Dickens, and yet with Morrell’s signature thriller action pacing and visual effects.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, which I've given.
Profile Image for Colleen Turner.
436 reviews99 followers
April 20, 2015
You can read my full review at http://aliteraryvacation.blogspot.com.

It has been a while since I've read a good, old-fashioned crime mystery but, having now read Inspector of the Dead, I have the urge to read more and more of them! Thomas De Quincey sets a new high standard for tragic yet brilliant crime solvers and it is his unique perspective, fueled by opium nightmares and a brain that won't stop, that makes him so open to deciphering the criminal mind and motive and guiding his companions, and the reader, to a conclusion nearly impossible to find any other way. Combine this with stellar writing full of real history and a wealth of heart and action and you have a book that is truly unputdownable.

Mixed in with the classic crime mystery our characters are trying to solve (who is killing wealthy citizens of London? Why are they targeting these particular people and who might be next? Why are they posing the victims the way they are and why are they putting notes with the names of people who tried to kill the Queen on the victims?), the reader gets to hear the story from the perspective of the killer, called "the revenger", who gives us his history full of pain, degradation and humiliation. You cannot help but feel for the revenger even as you are shocked and disgusted by his actions. The reader also gets to read entries from Emily De Quincey's journal that shows her own brilliant mind as well as the harsh life she and her father have lived due to the hold his laudanum addiction has over his life. These three varying ways of seeing the story made for a completely rounded perspective and made it evident that no one was all good or all bad. I found this to be an irresistible way to tell the story and made me really care for all of the characters no matter what their role in it.

Being the lover of history that I am, I found the extensive true history weaved in through this fictional story fascinating as well. So much of this story is true, including Thomas and Emily De Quincey and the information given about the men who had attempted to kill the Queen before the events in Inspector of the Dead. The background regarding the development and advancement of the London police department and forensics was also intriguing and instantly had me searching out more information about crime solving during Victorian times. The reader is also given information on the horrible treatment of the lower classes, especially Irish immigrants, and the appalling conditions they lived in, whether on the streets or in prison. David Morrell puts the cherry on top by giving the reader a delightful afterword that wraps up the true history as well as an extensive further reading list. This reader, for one, is so excited to dive in and check out some of the recommended reading!

Inspector of the Dead is the second Thomas De Quincey novel (Murder As A Fine Art being the first) but it is in no way difficult to begin reading the series with this second installment. Not having time to read Murder As A Fine Art before this review was due, I never felt like I was lost in the story or missing something because I did not read the books in order. However, having read and been completely captivated by Inspector of the Dead, I already have Murder As A Fine Art and plan to read it as soon as possible. David Morrell has now become a favorite author to follow!
Profile Image for Heather C.
492 reviews79 followers
October 12, 2015
When I started this book, I honestly couldn’t remember what had happened during Murder as a Fine Art – so I had no idea what to expect from reading this one. The only thing I remembered what that I had really enjoyed the previous book. And guess what, I really enjoyed this one too! I absolutely inhaled this one.

Thomas de Quincey, his daughter, Emily, and Scotland Yard men Ryan and Becker are all back and up to their necks in another murder mystery that is somehow surrounding Queen Victoria. The relationships and connections between these characters builds on the first book in a very natural manner. These are characters that I easily fell in love with during Murder as a Fine Art and just grew more dear. Again we travel from those seedy locales to the palace of the Queen and everywhere in between as Victorian London comes to vivid life in the pages of this book. Morrell is one of the best writers I have found to express the Victorian world in a way that is palpable to readers.

When looking back at my review of Murder as a Fine Art, one of the things that I found interesting was how my perception had changed over the style of the book. While reading the first book, I found that I did not really appreciate the shifting perspectives as well as the shift between narration and the journaling of Emily de Quincey. While reading Inspector of the Dead, I did like how these different sections were utilized to move the plot forward. I’m not sure if it is just that I was more used to the style after having read the first book or if the nature of the story being told just fit better with the style.

I never saw the resolution of this mystery coming – I actually was misled in another direction – which is a great mark of a mystery novel where they can tend to be very formulaic. I can’t wait to see what Morrell has up his sleeve for another book in this series as he finds these little nuggets of history to spin his mystery/thriller.

This review was previously posted at The Maiden's Court blog.
Profile Image for colleen the convivial curmudgeon.
1,155 reviews286 followers
October 1, 2015

The second in the Thomas De Quincey series, I liked this book just as much, if not perhaps slightly more, than the first book in the series.

One thing I will say straight off, though, that this is more a suspense-thriller-mystery and less a detective-mystery, and I sort of remember the first being more detective-mystery, so it did me a bit aback. The two detectives, Ryan and Becker, didn't seem nearly as present as in the first story, and even De Quincey's contribution seemed more focused on the psychology of the killer than on the specifics of tracking him down.

That aside, I enjoy thriller stories as much as detective stories, so I took it mostly in stride (except for sort of missing the contributions of the two detectives).

Then there's the issue of Emily. Overall I like her spunk, anachronistic as it might be, but I had a really hide time buying the few interactions she had with the queen. I can't imagine her casually talking about bloomer skirts with Queen Victoria, in front of men no less, nor her blithely checking their food for arsenic when they were guests in the palace. Most of the interactions with Emily are like, "I AM A STRONG INDEPENDENT WOMAN, AND YOU'RE JUST GOING TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT."

I like the attitude - but her interactions often come across as forced and unlikely.

Ok, so, that aside...

I really enjoyed the thriller aspect of the story. I enjoyed meeting some new characters in the guise of the Colonel and the family of his intended. The tie-ins with the murder with the past assassination attempts on the Queen was really interesting, and I got quite drawn into the psychology of story.

Can't say too much about the story, though, without giving something away, so I think I'll just have to leave it there.

Overall, enjoyable suspense-thriller type story, and I just wish there was maybe a bit more detective-mystery elements thrown in.
Profile Image for Justė.
348 reviews87 followers
July 11, 2018
god save the queen

Štai ir antra istorinio kriminalo dalis su itin įdomiomis asmenybėmis priešakyje, kurių ryškiausia itin originalus ir savu laiku labai šiuolaikiškas Tomas de Kvinsis su savo kelių tikrovių psichoanalitinėmis teorijomis ir jo dukra, Viktorijos laikų Anglijoje mūvinti kelnes. Su tokiais veikėjais pažindintis su Scotland Jardo pradžia bet kokiu atveju baisiai smagu.

Palyginus su pirma dalimi, šita tikriausiai pasirodė šiek tiek stipresnė. Jeigu pirmoje dalyje, visa informacija buvo sukišta vieno žmogaus smegenyse ir nebuvo jokių galimybių viską spėlioti pačiam, tai šį kartą buvo daugiau atvejų, kai detektyvai darydavo prielaidas, kurios pasitvirtindavo ir leido skaitytojui spėlioti. Tiesa ir atspėti sekėsi daug lengviau ir šiek tiek nusivyliau tokiomis akivaizdžiomis užuominomis. Nesu tikra, ar autorius labai gerai moka sukti galvosūkius – jie arba per akivaizdūs arba per daug giliai susukti, kad būtų galima mėgautis pačiomis paieškomis.

Užtat ką autorius sugeba, tai suderinti kriminalą su Viktorijos laikų Anglija. Visada smagu ten rasti šiek tiek istorijos pamokų ir tikrų faktų, įdomių istorinių detalių, sukurtą nuostabią atmosfera su Londono rūkais pirmoje dalyje ir pūgomis antroje. Kur dar jis puikiai tvarkosi – veikėjų portretuose, tiek paties de Kvinsio, tiek jo dukros, tiek detektyvų, politikos veikėjų ar nusikaltėlių – jie įdomūs ir dinamiški. Galbūt šiek tiek šabloniški, bet ne per labiausiai. Tiesa, su karalienės Viktorijos portretu, kuri šį kartą aktyviai dalyvavo veiksme, neįtikino. Matomai, per didelis iššūkis buvo pavaizduoti ją tikrą, o ne paveiksliuką.

Įdomus ala kostiuminis detektyvas, kuris sukelia visą spektrą emocijų ir įtraukia kaip reikalas. Kažin ką žada pasiūlyti trečioji, tikriausiai trilogijos, dalis.
Profile Image for Sharyn.
2,371 reviews10 followers
July 7, 2015
I rarely give 5 stars, but I loved this book!! I picked it from the New Books shelf at my local library, realized it was 2nd in a series, found the 1st book, "Murder is a fine art" loved it, and now have read this book. Morrell immersed himself in research of Victorian England for 2 years before writing these books and it shows. As a reader, I felt myself almost part of the book, the atmosphere was so well established. So many historical figures come alive, Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Dr. John Snow, Lord Palmerston, and especially Thomas De Quincy.
I hope Morrell will continue writing these as I really want to know what happens to these characters!! The mysteries are well done and the dialogue is fascinating. I highly recommend these books. I am also reading Anne Perry, who also brings Victorian London to life, so if you haven't read her Monk series (the character Hester comes back from The Crimea after working as a nurse with Florence Nightingale) and Her Thomas Pitt and Charlotte books also are filled with Victorian lives and are also good mysteries.
Profile Image for Hilary.
2,005 reviews47 followers
June 29, 2015
Set in London during the Crimean War, a most unlikely pairing emerges: the opium addict Thomas De Quincey and his daughter along with two detectives from Scotland Yard. Together they seek out an assassin who has marked Queen Victoria as a target, uncovering hints of a far bigger conspiracy.

It's full of incredible details, from the scandalous appearance of Emily's bloomers to the dyes used in clothing and the very behaviour of someone so addicted to opium he is completely unable to stop. Even the switch of narration from third-person to a first-person journal is authentic to the time, adding details from another view that might otherwise be awkwardly placed.

Although the second in the series, it works as a standalone. (I'm going back to read book 1 though!)
Profile Image for Cathie.
186 reviews22 followers
November 16, 2016
When I finished, I thought . Unexpected story line for the revenger. Quite the Victorian sensation novel with historical references of people and places in that era.

Profile Image for Danielle.
517 reviews35 followers
November 13, 2020
This is the second book in this historical thriller series that's based on true events and people (Thomas de Quincey {author of infamous "confessions of an opium eater"}, Queen Victoria and other government magistrates) I love this series for the great fast-pacing, interesting true tidbits about the time period and the fantastic plot that always leaves me guessing.

This book is about the many attempts on Queen Victoria's life to kill her and the detectives and Thomas de Quincey who figure out the mystery of the perpetrator. It's told in third person and 1st person when we get a glimpse inside another main character, Emily de Quincey (Thomas' daughter who looks after him) journal/diary. That shift in perspective keeps the book from getting too humdrum and boring.

I love this series because of the setting (old, foggy Victorian London) and the true information that the author peppers throughout the book about whatever is happening at the moment. For instance, the author explains Emily's choice of dress, a bloomer dress and the history behind it. The author explains various parts of London (The Seven Dials Rookery, Belgravia) that actually exist and the history behind it. I really feel like I'm learning something that I can take with me into the world and use elsewhere. That's quite specific to my personality; I appreciate acquiring new information and having my reading "count" for something. Previously I ONLY read non-fiction because "what's the point of reading something purely for pleasure?!?" ( Looking back, I cannot believe myself!!!)

The murders are quite horrific. I could NEVER watch a television or movie production of this because I fear it would too graphic for me. But in written form, I can skim and not give too much thought or notice to.

If you love Anthony Horowitz and his intricate, witty writing you'll love this. It also has an Agatha Christie flavor because of the setting (England) and the cast of characters that each book revolves around. If you enjoy Louise Penny you will enjoy this because of the police procedural aspect. The Scotland Yard detectives are some of the main characters. And the author gives information on the evolution of police procedures in that time.

This is quickly becoming one of my favorite series.

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