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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 19 January 2014
A rather dark but atmospheric romantic thriller (with an element of espionage thrown in) set in Victorian London during the construction of Brunel's Great Eastern vessel (hence the title `Leviathan'). The story could have become diluted due to the excellent description and setting of the Great Eastern shipyard, but the construction of this great vessel remains in the background as the story unfolds and does not overshadow the plot. Colourful and believable characters spring into the imagination as the plot unfolds. Locations within London are well researched and appropriate to the period in which the story unfolds.
The main characters are Dr Jonathan Silver (who is wrongly sentenced to death because of the murder of his wife), Elisa Saltash (a delightfully determined rogue and thief with a very sophisticated alter ego) who engineers his escape from Newgate Prison on the evening before his execution and the enigmatic Miss Amy McLennan (an intriguing friend acquired post-escape, who works in a hostel for fallen women). Interestingly, the detective in the story, Sergeant Charlie Sparrow, who is both clever and deductive is deserving of a story (or stories) where he is the central or main character (rather like Morse or Lewis).
The settings and life in Victorian London is wonderfully described. The relentless detective work of Sergeant Sparrow leads one to imagine that there can be only one final outcome, but there is a wonderful twist in the ending.
A well written book which grabs the imagination from chapter one and gathers momentum as the story unfolds. This book is difficult to put down once started.
A brilliant first novel from this author.
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on 15 January 2014
I have to say that I came upon this book completely by chance. The author is not known to me and I simply searched for a good historical crime mystery. This book came up, I liked the cover, enjoyed the description, it was well priced for a book of this length so I bought it. And I am sure glad I did because it is a truly excellent read. This guy can really write! Not only that, the plot is intricate and, like all quality murder mysteries, keeps you guessing right until the end. No plot spoiler here but you really are in for a surprise.

The book is set in London of the 1850s and the author seems to know a great deal about this subject. His early description of Newgate Prison of that period smacks of authenticity so he is either quite an expert on London of the nineteenth century or a better bluffer than I give him credit for.

The story centres around quite a high class doctor falsely imprisoned for murdering his wife and who is freed by a nineteen year old girl, much wiser than her years. Their attempts to solve the mystery of Dr Silver's murdered wife whilst escaping the clutches of the law in the form of Sergeant Charlie Sparrow, probably the most interesting character in the book, comprise the bulk of the book, given that the plot waters are muddied by the murder of several young women in the Wapping area. The imminent launch of Brunel's ship 'Leviathan' adds further authenticity to the action.

The characters are realistic and well drawn and well rounded, the dialogue is crisp and lively and the atmosphere is superb. So what more could a reader want? Nothing actually! Hence the five star review. If you like historical crime/mystery/thrillers with a touch of romance thrown in for added interest then this is the book for you. A great read.
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on 19 January 2014
This is a book that I enjoyed reading very much which is quite surprising since historical crime thrillers are not the type of fiction I would normally choose to read. I usually prefer more serious historical fiction, for example Hilary Mantel's books about Thomas Cromwell, Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies. But I am glad that I did read Leviathan because it is a very entertaining book and it did hold my attention literally from first paragraph to last.

The author writes in a very sophisticated and polished way but in a way that is also highly readable. He has an excellent style that engages the reader almost instantly and which overcame my initial doubts about the plot. He may be no Hilary Mantel in the depth and quality of his writing, yet his style is well suited to this kind of fast moving story. The story concerns a man, Dr Jonathan Silver, falsely accused of the murder of his wife in 1857 London, and could easily have been hackneyed or predictable. Yet I found the plot interesting throughout, and it certainly developed in many unexpected ways, especially near the end where the surprises come thick and fast.

There is also an authenticity to the historical and geographical background that adds a great deal to the believability of the narrative - London of the 1850s is a fascinating concept in its own right and the author deals with this with great aplomb. This is obvious from the very beginning, with the highly authentic descriptions of Newgate Prison as provided in Jonathan Silver's conversation with Jonas Saltash which, I must admit, I found truly absorbing, and continues throughout the book.

The style employed throughout is an impressive one. The author writes very well and his style held my attention well with subtle variations of pace. The story also has a rather unexpected lightness of touch which surprised me initially, but which I got used to. In spite of my own doubts, I even found the romantic elements of the plot, with the developing relationship between Silver and the mysterious Elisa, to be very entertaining.

Leviathan is fine example of a book in this genre so I look forward to reading more books from this author in the future.
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on 19 January 2014
I worked in London in the 70s and was always fascinated by the river. London, at the time of this novel, was much more different than today and Thomson brings old London alive through his characters. What I particularly liked was that from the first page the novel grips you and it becomes a bit of a page turner. Well researched story and historically quite accurate. If this is his first novel then can't wait for the next one.
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on 16 February 2014
I chanced upon this story yesterday, downloaded it and barely put down my tablet until I finished it. The plot was good and pacy, the characters well-drawn and the backdrop of grimy London felt authentic. This was a very satisfying read - I shall look forward to the author's next book.
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on 3 April 2014
Leviathan is set in mid 19th century east end of London and is a delightful weave of murder mystery and historical fact. The author takes us through the streets and events of old London whilst spinning an intriguing web of murders, love and of wrongs being righted with a lovely twist at the end. The historical accuracy and descriptions of life and work in the East End are testament to the author's research and storytelling; a really good read. I'm looking forward to reading Thomson's latest novel; "Winter of the Comet" and hopefully more to come in the future.
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on 3 October 2014
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am delighted to find a new author whose books I can enjoy. I have now read three of this authors works and they have all been very enjoyable - why hasn't he found a publisher? I agree with another reviewer who compared Thomson favourably with Robert Goddard and I do agree. Each book has been well researched and comes complete with a lot of interesting historical detail which does not spoil the flow of the book.
I very rarely give five stars but this book comes very close and I hope that Mr. Thomson will continue to enthrall us with his writing
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on 19 December 2015
This historical thriller set in Victorian London is a compelling read which continued to gather momentum from the beginning. I found the plot extremely interesting, with lots of twists and suspense. The historical content is also very good. The characters in the book are relevant, credible and well defined. I enjoyed reading the authors choice of words in this book. There are many interesting and varied adjectives used which I could learn the meaning of and improve my vocabulary. I found the storytelling fascinating and very entertaining. It was not an ending I was able to predict but was very pleased with the outcome has everything was perfectly tied up leaving nothing unexplained. Well recommended and worth the money. I will read another from this author as this book was very enjoyable.
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on 27 August 2014
This is a terrific book. Great plot, good characters and dialogue. I would compare with Robert Goddard at his best (not sure if that will please the author!). One of those books you wish went on forever. Downloaded all his books and the second one was just as good. Have Miss Peachy and Winter's Grip lined up to read.
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on 30 April 2015
One of the things I love about the Kindle bookstore is the ease with which I can browse and look around for new authors. So I was pleasantly surprised when I found Gordon Thomson and his work.

I read a selection of 2,3,4 and 5 star reviews of Leviathan before I decided to try this and I am glad I did. At the time of writing this there are no 1 star reviews. It is rare that I am so impressed by an author at the first read.

The City of London is always a fascinating backdrop to any mystery and the period of the Victorian era adds to this fascination. The author has clearly done his research and he knows how to tell a story whilst weaving his historical knowledge into the plot. He has a very readable style which held me spellbound. I didn't guess the ending and trite as it may sound I just wanted the story to go on. I hope there is a follow up to this book as I would love to know what continues to happen to the characters in some future story ...... or is it just best to leave the book where it is and let our imagination do the rest?

As an extra bonus the theme is centred around the building and launch of the Leviathan. Again the author has done his research. I notice that some reviewers have commented that there is too much technical detail around this but I have found it central to the plot and enjoyed the history lesson. I have even bookmarked several pages and highlighted a number of passages so I may re read these at my leisure as I found them interesting.

I have downloaded several more Gordon Thomson books and anticipate many happy hours of reading.
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