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The final thrilling instalment in the Williamson Papers, set in a superbly drawn Victorian London. Back in England after surviving the horrors of Cawnpore, John Williamson returns to his hometown. On looking up an old friend, he finds the man hasn't been heard of since his departure to London, the glamorous capital of the British Empire. Concerned for his friend's safety, Williamson follows him to the metropolis, where he has fallen into bad company and now dwells in the notorious rookery of Seven Dials. Worse still, the intelligence services are on his trail, convinced that something worse than petty criminality is occurring in the slum: that foreign subversives are at work there, with catastrophic designs on Britain herself. Blackmailed into helping the investigation, can Williamson manage to save his friend from certain death - and survive himself, in a world that condemns him for his sexuality?

216 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 2015

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About the author

Tom Williams

19 books27 followers

Tom Williams used to write books for business. Now he writes novels set in the 19th century that are generally described as fiction but which are often more honest than the business books. (He writes contemporary fantasy as well, but that's a dark part of his life, so you'll have to explore that on your own - ideally with a friend and a protective amulet.)

His stories about James Burke (based on a real person) are exciting tales of high adventure and low cunning set around the Napoleonic Wars. The stories have given him the excuse to travel to Argentina, Egypt, and Spain and call it research.

Tom lives in London. His main interest is avoiding doing any honest work and this leaves him with time to ski, skate and dance tango, all of which (before covid) he thought he did quite well. In between he reads old books and spends far too much time looking at ancient weaponry.

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Displaying 1 - 4 of 4 reviews
Profile Image for Whispering Stories.
2,601 reviews2,553 followers
December 17, 2016
I read ‘Back Home’ as a stand-alone novel as I have not read the other books in the series. It would have been good to know about what this character had been up to in India before he returned home but I did not feel that this detracted from my enjoyment of the novel at all.

I have to make a confession first: I adore all things Victorian, so I suspected that this book would be a great hit with me and I was not wrong!

It is perfectly paced and has an authentic voice which gives a real sense of time and place. The fascinating divide between the haves and have-nots of Victorian England is cleverly explored but not over-done. The author has clearly done his home-work here and weaves in subtle details without you even realising it. At no point does this seem like a history lesson but I finished the book feeling like I had learned a lot!

I loved Williamson, the main character, and got a feeling for what had gone before in his life and how it had shaped his character. I was surprised by the manipulative nature of the secret services and Williamson’s initial acceptance of their authority. The relationships between the characters are believable and there are some exciting scenes. I never bored of the narrative!

Reviewed by Sharon at www.whisperingstories.com
Profile Image for Terry Tyler.
Author 27 books565 followers
May 10, 2016
Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber's Review Team

I loved this book. Although the third part of a trilogy, it is a complete stand-alone (I haven't read the other parts), with a two page preface that gives exactly the right information about what has happened before; this is so well written that I couldn't wait to get cracking on the main story.

Back Home is an excellent piece of intricately researched historical fiction, set in the mid 19th century, when affluent, middle class John Williamson returns home from thirty years in Borneo and India to find England a place that has gone through much change. Circumstances take him to London, where he becomes involved with the murky, criminal side of life in order to rescue a friend from danger—and because he is being blackmailed.

I enjoyed every word of this novel. It's so cleverly written, with low-key humour in parts, the research used subtly and inobtrusively. Williamson's new life centres around an underground industry; the detail about this is fascinating, as are the eye-opening accounts of life in early Victorian slums. That aside, I loved reading about his impressions of this new London, his observations about the sociological changes and patterns, and the people he meets. Even the mundane domestic detail held my attention a hundred per cent.

I shall be reading the previous book, Cawnpore, very soon, and highly recommend this novel to all lovers of intelligent historical fiction. Really impressed!
Profile Image for Judith Barrow.
Author 8 books57 followers
May 23, 2016
This is a brilliant read; a fascinating story tale of mystery in the slums of Victorian London. And the research done byTom Williams into the social, business, industrial changes of this era and the study of the environment of both city and countryside is both obvious and admirable

As this is the third of John Williamson's story and, as I have yet to read the first two books, I appreciated the explanatory Foreword; a very useful summary for the reader a good account of the protagonist's previous life and background that immediately brings the character to life. It made it easier for me to begin to understand his motivations and decisions.

Told in the first person point of view of the protagonist this is a man who has lived for many years in different countries and, although now rich and respected, his return to Britain becomes fraught with many dangers.

The dialogue, especially the internal dialogue of John Williamson is excellent. Although, in many circumstances, ‘showing’ any action, detailing parts of a story, is a preferable way of writing, in this novel the ‘telling ‘ is essential and adds to rounding out the character. And the dialogue and language of the other characters give a real flavour of the era and their status in society.

The sense of place is evoked succinctly through both the words of the protagonist and the descriptions; the atmosphere of despair, the bleakness of the world of these characters, the depths of poverty, conspiracies and lack of morals underpins the whole of the book. There is even an appearance of Karl Marx to add authenticity to the times.

I loved everything about Back Home and have no hesitation in recommending this book as a brilliant read.
Profile Image for Antoine Vanner.
Author 15 books43 followers
November 5, 2016
Victorian London – the twilight of Bill Sykes, the dawn of Karl Marx
This is an engaging tale of mystery in the London of the mid-Victorian period. It’s 1859 and there are still traces of the world of Bill Sykes. The reforms of administration, sanitation and education that will transform Britain in the coming decades are still in their infancy. Foul slum “rookeries”, with medieval levels of squalor and poverty, coexist – often with yards of each other – with the new Britain of railways, telegraphs and department stores, not to mention the thinking of a German exile called Karl Marx. All this is seen through the eyes of a man who left a very different country many years before and who now returns, rich after years spent in Borneo and India, to one he can hardly recognise. Well-meaning, committed to finding and helping a childhood friend who has disappeared, he finds himself plunged into a maelstrom of crime and danger more complex than he had ever anticipated. Manipulated by the secret security service of the day, yet striving to protect a friend whose business is obviously criminal while not betraying his own honour and honesty, he threads a very difficult path indeed. The story is an exciting one and one looks forward to yet more from this writer – his hero will surely not be content with quiet retirement in rural Devon, not after the excitement of his adventures abroad and his narrow escapes “back home.”
Displaying 1 - 4 of 4 reviews

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