This was my first experience of a steam punk novel, not sure if it will be my last. The story revolves around the the investigation into an airship crash in Victorian London, with zombies clockwork robots and glowing ghostly policeman thrown in for good measure. heading up this investigation is the partnership between Sir Maurice Newbury and his female assistant Hobbes.
Now obviously the main protagonist has to have a major failing, he just wouldn't be a detective if he didn't have some failing. In this case it is an addiction to laudanum. Here in lies my first problem with this book, why does he have to have an addiction, especially laudanum, this seems to de the drug of choice for Victorian detectives.
Secondly, everything bar the Kitchen sink is thrown into the mix, secret meetings with the monarchy, clockwork powered robots, a slightly dubious scientist, a power mad business man, and lets not forget fog shrouded streets of London. Yet for all these things Mann, never to truly capture any sense or fell of Victorian London, regardless of its steam punk leanings. Reading this novel it was hard pushed to imagine the characters walking around London, even though all that was missing was a young boy shouting "shine your shoes guv'nor.
The novel read flat, at no point did I feel compelled to turn the page. Yet, this is where it becomes murky, would I recommend this novel to someone else, no I wouldn't, but will I buy the sequel, probably. There is a really good pulp novel sitting here, waiting to be edited and rewritten in to leaner more fast paced story. Hopefully the second novel sees a progression in the writing, with a few off the clichés thrown out in favour of some more original thoughts and ideas.
This novels deserve 2 and half outr of five.