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The Kingdom of Bones [Paperback]

Stephen Gallagher
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
RRP: 6.99
Price: 5.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

6 Dec 2012

It was my friend, Bram Stoker, who told me of the legend of the Wanderer a man who made a bargain with the devil himself, trading his soul for forbidden knowledge and eternal life.

Once I would have dismissed such tales as mere fancy but I knew what I had seen. And there is no mind so open as that of desperate man.

A dark Gothic Victorian thriller, The Kingdom of Bones unfolds in a twilight world of music halls, boxing booths, and travelling theatrical shows; and pits a formidable Pinkerton detective against a man who fears more than justice.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press (Fiction) (6 Dec 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0091950139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091950132
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.6 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 548,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Only bad thing about his books is that they eventually end. Brilliant." (Jonny Lee Miller)

"Vividly set in England and America during the booming industrial era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this stylish thriller conjures a perfect demon to symbolize the age and its appetites..." (The New York Times)

"From its attention-grabbing opening, this period thriller moves back and forth in time to tell a compelling story of a man battling against what he believes to be demonic forces . [Gallagher] is brilliantly successful at evoking the shifting, transient world of travelling theatres and cheap carnivals that provide the backdrop to his twisting tale" (Sunday Times)

"If thriller-reading were a sin, Stephen Gallagher would be responsible for my ultimate damnation." (Dean R. Koontz)

Book Description

A dark Gothic Victorian thriller in the spirit of Sherlock Holmes

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ripping Yarn 18 April 2013
By P. G. Strachan VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I confess that this was a lot darker than I'd been led to expect. I'd anticipated villainy of the waxed moustache twiddling variety but there's a lot more on offer here - some if it pretty scary. The story is more than adequately outlined elsewhere in these reviews so I won't add to the verbiage on that front....but it cracks along at a fair old pace and has a real sense of time and place. Thoroughly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Gothic tale 27 Nov 2012
By Penny Waugh TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I enjoyed this one for many reasons. The period detail was excellent, the story interesting and the characters well drawn. Also I love books with the theatre in them and this one drew on the horrors of a countrywide Victorian tour as well as the horrors of murder and mayhem.
That said, Tom Sayers is a man you can easily lose patience with; although at the beginning of his back story he seems a normal enough sort of chap, ex-boxer turned business manager for the Whitlock touring theatre company, he soon shows himself to be a totally obsessive character, and when he is falsely accused of a horrible murder and finds himself on the run, his obsession with the girl singer Louise Porter takes him over completely.
The story starts years later in Philadelphia, where British ex-police inspector and now Pinkerton Man Sebastian Becker, recognises Sayers who is working as a carnival boxer. He is aware that Sayers was not the murderer he had sought and gets his story from him. He finds much of it, especially the supernatural element, hard to believe though he was present for some of the action in London.
Sayers, still searching for Louise, and convinced of her essential innocence despite the diabolical nature of the crimes, involves Becker in his hunt for her, and the action moves to Richmond, Virginia and to New Orleans where both men face great danger.
The action moves quickly, the marvellous detail not impeding the story. The later Louise is not someone you would wish to meet on a dark night and Sayers obsession with her can be wearing for the reader and hard on his friends, but he is in his way an admirable man.
Bram Stoker plays a small but important part in the story.
The ending did not do much for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed this slice of Victorian Gothic and look forward to more of Sebastian Becker.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Kingdom of Bones 9 Oct 2013
By Steve D TOP 1000 REVIEWER
I first 'discovered' Stephen Gallagher back in the late 80s, when his horror novel Valley of Lights was well reviewed in, iirc, Starburst magazine. I bought it and read it, and went on to read a couple of his other novels; Oktober and Chimera (which was adapted for a tv mini-series in the early 90s). And since then I'd pretty much forgotten about him.

Starting in 1903 in Philadelphia, detective Sebastian Becker is drawn back into an unsolved mystery when he recognises a face linked to traumatic events in his past. The story then moves between 1903 and 1888 in Victorian England, as the rest of the story is gradually revealed, intertwining with Becker's personal life, his wife and autistic child, and a touring stage production that may be the cover for a serial killer.

Gallagher has an economic style that flows very well, and the pages flew past. On the face of it, the story is very similar to that of Valley of Lights, just set in the past. And, again like Valley of Lights, it comes close to being great. There's just something missing that holds it back slightly, and I can't quite put my finger on what it is. I think, perhaps, he missed an opportunity to take his idea of the Wanderer that step further and make this a truly chilling and atmospheric novel. As it is, the chills aren't scary enough and, despite all the period detail, the atmosphere is strangely low key.

That said, I found it a very enjoyable read. It's an intelligently written tale with decent characters and a good sense of time and place. Notably, Bram Stoker is a major character in the story, and it is evident from the notes at the back of the book that Gallagher did a huge amount of research into his life. Also, Sebastian Becker is already the subject of a sequel, The Bedlam Detective.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a really satisfying read 19 Aug 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
It took me a while to get into this, but once I'd got comfortable with the rhythm of the story-telling I couldn't put it down. Not only was the prose descriptive and imaginative, but the characters were well-rounded and were given ample space to develop. I'll definitely read more by Stephen Gallagher!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Bone Dull 16 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's not often I don't finish a book for review, but this is one of them. It starts off well enough, and introduces the main character and the plot hook rather well. Unfortunately, once the story switches into flashback mode it becomes highly derivative and predictable, what little I could manage to wade through. Perhaps that's the point, to be a pastiche of gothic horror novels, but I was hoping for far more than that, especially given the promise of the opening chapter. Chucking in Bram Stoker as a character only seemed to underline the problem and I gave up not long after that.

Perhaps this develops into something better as it goes along, and maybe one day I'll give it another chance. But for the moment, it has to be relegated to the pile of books that can best be described as: "Nice idea, shame about the execution".
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Cut above the rest
Quite a difficult book to review. I give it 4 stars but could be swayed to three or five. It was a book that had me gripped most of the way with an intriguing plot line that was... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Alec
3.0 out of 5 stars Gothic crime tale with a supernatural twist
When Pinkerton Detective Sebastian Becker encounters an old adversary in a travelling boxing show in Philadelphia, he is drawn back into a disturbing case that has haunted him for... Read more
Published 18 months ago by AR
4.0 out of 5 stars Truly satisfying
I loved the cover and was worried that the contents wouldn't match up - fortunately, they did.

The author has an eye for period detail and this alone makes the book... Read more
Published 18 months ago by R. A. Mansfield
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully Gothic nonsense
A fast paced thriller with a touch of the supernatural. Kingdom of Bones starts out a regular Victorian crime story with a dash of limelight and greasepaint, but quickly develops... Read more
Published 19 months ago by marcoscu
3.0 out of 5 stars Bare Bones
A cross genre detective/supernatural adventure yarn set in late Victorian/Turn of the Century England and America. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Rotgut
5.0 out of 5 stars Seriously good .....
Stephen Gallagher's The Kingdom of Bones is a wonderful murder mystery which ventures from the world of Victorian music halls to the Pinketron detective agency and takes in the... Read more
Published 20 months ago by V. Nicholl
5.0 out of 5 stars A mysterious period thriller, with memorable set pieces and great...
The historical drama has never been a favourite genre of mine, in fact I often avoid it entirely, but I'm a fan of the author and gave it a go. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Stephen Jordan
4.0 out of 5 stars Forging its own way
I love books that not only fulfil what I'm looking for but forge their own path delivering something unexpected. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog
Welcome here full-blooded adventures from a clear master of the craft, the reader constantly wrongfooted and wondering what will come next. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Mr. D. L. Rees
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