Her Royal Orangeness's Reviews > Tom-All-Alone's

Tom-All-Alone's by Lynn Shepherd
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's review
Mar 02, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012, best-of-2012, hf-19th-century
Read from May 01 to 04, 2012

“Tom-All-Alone’s” is an atmospheric murder mystery set in Victorian London that is essentially Dickens’ “Bleak House” told from a different perspective. (Characters from Collins’ “The Woman in White’ are featured as well.) Charles Maddox has been unjustly dismissed from the police force so he begins work as a private detective. He accepts a case from Edward Tulkinghorn, the sinister lawyer from ‘Bleak House.’ and finds himself caught up in a harrowing and nefarious investigation.

What impressed me most about “Tom-All-Alone’s” is the author’s expert and clever use of a third person omniscient narrative style. The tale is conveyed in a storytelling manner, with direct addresses to the reader, so it is as though you are sitting at the author’s feet as she tells you the story. Though the plot is intricate and often dark, by using this narrative style the author has made the story completely mesmerizing.

The sense of time and place is excellent, although I felt that at times plot got lost in the extraneous details. The author did well at mimicking the Victorian writing style, both in language and themes.

The characterizations and the plot are complex, and I appreciated how the mystery resolved in the end. Though I wasn’t completely taken by surprise when all the pieces were put into place, I also hadn’t figure everything out by page 20, which is often the epic fail of mystery novels.

The ending seemed to be a bit of a cliffhanger so I suspect Charles Maddox will be appearing in a future novel by the author. And I certainly enjoyed “Tom-All-Alone’s” well enough that I look forward to another encounter with Charles.
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