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Scan 38What’s it all about?

Mayhem is set in the height of the Jack the Ripper murders, but body parts found at New Scotland Yard are definitely the work of a different killer, no matter how much the authorities wish it wasn’t. Thomas Bond is the police surgeon working on both cases, and as he delves into the murders he begins to suspect that something more supernatural than a rampaging serial killer is at work in London.

Why did I want to read it?

Serial killers, Jack the Ripper, Victorian London, what’s not to like? Plus although I had a couple of her e-books I hadn’t read any of Sarah Pinborough’s books and wanted to give her a try, partly due to the subject matter and partly because she is great fun to follow on Twitter (there’s that word again).

What did I think of it?

I liked it a great deal. It was a very interesting experience reading it so soon after Drood (reviewed earlier) as there are some similarities in the use of the supernatural, the main character’s tendency to dabble in drugs, the mix of real and fictional characters and events. I thought this was much more successful; I liked Thomas Bond very much and found his struggle with opium and the effect it had on him much more sympathetic, as were the domestic elements in the story contrasting with the grimness of the crimes being investigated. But I don’t want to dwell too much on comparisons with someone else’s work, this is a really good novel.

Conclusion

Recommended. I’m going to be searching out more of Sarah Pinborough’s work, although disappointed that the next volume in this series won’t be published until 2015.

This was a read for RIP VIII

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ScanWhat’s it all about?

In The Memory of Blood the Peculiar Crimes Unit get called in to deal with the death of a child thrown from his bedroom window while elsewhere in the apartment his parents hold a party for the cast and crew of a play being performed in the theatre owned by the child’s father. It’s a PCU case because the door was locked, there seems to be no forensic evidence, and, well, there’s a life-size puppet of Mr Punch on the floor. Supernatural activity or human agency? Oooh.

Why did I want to read it?

My love for the Bryant & May series is well-documented on this blog. I’ve read the lot in order and wasn’t going to miss this one.

What did I think?

Loved it. I am a sucker for stories about the theatrical world and this one is chock full of  corruption, venality and oddness amongst the suspects, plus a nice political back story for the assistant stage manager and the spectre of Home Office disapproval hanging over the case. As always I learned loads – about London, the theatre, Punch and Judy and much more. Didn’t work out who the murderer was which was nicely satisfying in a strange way. The series just gets better and better.

Conclusion

If you haven’t read any of the Bryant & May books, why ever not? Get on with it. You won’t be disappointed.

This was a read for RIP VIII

Scan 37What’s it all about?

Let’s use the words of the narrator, one Wilkie Collins, to describe what we’re talking about here:

This story shall be about my friend (or at least about the man who was once my friend) Charles Dickens and about the accident that took away his piece of mind, his health, and some might whisper, his sanity

The story kicks off with the Staplehurst railway accident that Dickens was involved in while travelling home from Paris with his mistress Ellen Ternan. While trying to assist those injured in the accident Dickens comes across a mysterious and rather ghoulish figure who becomes known to him as Drood. Dickens then drags Collins into his obsession, which leads them to investigate the underworld of London, with all the crime, squalor and danger that involved. And not a little madness. And quite a lot of death.

Why did I want to read it?

I’ve had mixed fortunes with the works of Dan Simmons. I read The Song of Kali in 2009 and really struggled with it, finding it a little too grim for my tastes. But I had also read The Terror the year before and absolutely loved it. The combination of real literary figures and a Gothic sensibility promised by Drood was very attractive.

What did I think of it?

Well. I finished reading this in the middle of September and I’m still not sure what I think. I was drawn in by the early part of the book and cracked on with the story which promised a great deal, but somewhere around the middle, when the focus shifts almost entirely to Collins and his problems I began to get a bit bogged down and actually stopped reading it for a bit. But I was determined to finish it and it did pick up again in the last third. It is completely mad. Although I have to say that it seems pretty authentic in its representation of both the central characters and all levels of society at that time.

Conclusion

There is a quote towards the end of the book where Collins says:

You never cared about my part of this memoir. It was always Dickens and Drood, or Drood and Dickens, which kept you reading

And maybe that is the problem for me, insufficient Drood. So fair to say that my response to the novel is ambivalent; glad I read it but not a favourite and *whispers* too long.

It has made me want to finally read Armadale though.

For a more positive review you should visit Roxploration who discusses the book here.

This was a read for RIP VIII.

Bride of the Book God

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Scottish, in my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

I also blog at Bride of the Screen God (all about movies and TV) and The Dowager Bride, if you are interested in ramblings about stuff of little consequence

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

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