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1001 book reviews > Hawksmoor, by Peter Ackroyd

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Jamie Barringer (Ravenmount) (ravenmount) | 467 comments This was an interesting twist on the murder mystery type of story, with ghosts and alternating chapters of modern and archaic spellings as the story shifts from modern day to the era in which the churches that form the foundation of the story were being built. The novel is also structured roughly along the same lines as the structure of the church plans the architect is making. Even without closer analysis this was an interesting sort of experimental novel. The historical fiction bits are cool, with all the alternate spellings and archaic ideas. My only real complaint is that the sleuth, Hawksmoor, is a stereotypical investigator-with-mental-issues, very much like many other British fictional investigators. Surely not all excellent male investigators are inches away from a mental breakdown or drowning themselves in booze. Still, this was a fun story, and while the ending seems a bit vague, it was vague in a nice, mystical way that fit the story.
I gave this book 5 stars on Goodgreads.

message 2: by Kristel (last edited Sep 08, 2019 02:13PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kristel (kristelh) | 3965 comments Mod
read in 2010
Hawksmoor was an architect who built the churches mentioned in the novel by Peter Ackroyd in his novel Hawksmoor (1985). In this, the historical Hawksmoor is refigured as the fictional Devil-worshiper Nicholas Dyer, while the eponymous Hawksmoor is cast as a twentieth-century detective charged with investigating a series of murders perpetrated on Dyer's (Hawksmoor's) churches. The novel is arguably a good example of magic realism.
to see the six churches;

Patrick Robitaille | 904 comments *** 1/2

This is an interesting murder mystery fiction set in a semi-historical context around the erection of six (seven in the fiction) London churches designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor at the beginning of the 18th century. However, Hawksmoor in this novel is the 1980s inspector charged with resolving a series of murders linked to these churches whose design was attributed to Nicholas Dyer. The latter was a devil-worshipper who aimed to conceal dark secrets within each of the churches he would build. The novel is also quite experimental, with chapters alternating between Dyer (in 18th century English) and Hawksmoor (in 20th century English) and several sentences, passages or events mirroring/repeating each other in both eras. Quite often, a subsequent chapter would start with the almost exact last sentence of the previous one. The Dyer chapters were a bit harder to read and decipher (and unfortunately, they were the longer ones). The novel was inspired by a passage of Iain Sinclair's poem Lud Heat broaching the same hypothesis about Hawksmoor and his churches. Quite good story, but not as speculative and rich as Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum which delves in the same satanic topics.

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