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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally gripping debut novel.
Set in 1857 and seen through the eyes of surgeon Dr George Phillips, The Secrets of the Lazarus Club has to be one of the most gripping books I've read in a long while. It opens with a fantastically gruesome attempt by a waterman to retrieve a mutilated female corpse from the Thames, one of many prostitutes to be found with the same horrific wounds. Those of a delicate...
Published on 30 April 2010 by P. Dutton

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good yarn but spoiled by mock historical scenario
This novel is wound intimately around real historical characters and events but invents stories and relationships between them which (almost certainly) did not occur. It began like an extended Wikipedia entry for the great and the good of the Victorian scientific and medical world but once the fictional elements were introduced they just didn't seem believable, also...
Published 23 months ago by Duncan


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally gripping debut novel., 30 April 2010
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This review is from: The Secrets of the Lazarus Club (Paperback)
Set in 1857 and seen through the eyes of surgeon Dr George Phillips, The Secrets of the Lazarus Club has to be one of the most gripping books I've read in a long while. It opens with a fantastically gruesome attempt by a waterman to retrieve a mutilated female corpse from the Thames, one of many prostitutes to be found with the same horrific wounds. Those of a delicate constitution may falter at the prologue, so good is Pollard's descriptive of the filthy river and festering body.
Phillips finds himself in the company of the great engineer Brunel, who, having almost completed his ship, the Great Eastern, is inquisitive to learn more about the inner workings of the human machine, and Phillips is just the man to assist him. He is also just the man whom the police suspect is behind these mutilated bodies.
And so, Brunel issues the doctor with an invite to the Lazarus Club, a secret gathering of the most forward-thinking men of the age. In come Darwin, Russell, Bazalgette, Brodie, Babbage and the fantastically mysterious Ockham, all keen to share their own discoveries and learn of others. Soon Phillips realises that not all of the secrets of the Lazarus Club are in the pursuit of honest achievements, and he finds himself in the middle of a very murky plot. The story has many twists as Phillips attempts to clear his own name and put right a broken promise.
Florence Nightingale has been beautifully written into the story, she is feisty and strong, but still retaining a brilliant wit and an ability to sense the danger that Phillips is in. Her infamous lamp is put to a macabre use in the novel too!
Phillips' character is intriguing, the decisions he makes are not always the ones you are expecting. You get a great sense of atmosphere in the story; the streets, the smells, the hugeness of Brunel's ship and the engineering achievements both big and small! There were moments that made me laugh and moments that made me reel #brace yourself when you get to the old mill# but the real joy is in how Pollard has managed to weave into his great novel so many historical figures and still retain believability and excitement on this level. This is his first novel, and I for one can't wait for his second.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lazarus Club, 29 Nov. 2010
This review is from: The Secrets of the Lazarus Club (Paperback)
If ever you're in need of a good book to while away an afternoon in front of the fire, this could well be it. The story twists and turns taking you on a journey though Victorian London and beyond whilst you get to know the very likeable main character, Dr George Philips. He rubs shoulders with some of the greatest men and women of the age and fits in credibly with the elite members of the Lazarus Club. From mutilated corpses to Victorian style 007 boat chases, this book has it all. It keeps you guessing right to the end as to `whodunnit' and throws up surprises all the way.
A feisty Florence Nightingale adds a memorable female presence to the story and a hint of romance in an otherwise dark and brooding situation. For anyone with a penchant for gruesome murder, clever plots and fast action-hero paced stories, this will certainly do the job.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars cracking good read, 27 Mar. 2010
This review is from: The Secrets of the Lazarus Club (Paperback)
Wow what an interesting book and "rip-roaring adventure". It's a book I read about a while back but when I went to buy it, it was out of print. A new edition (with the new title) was published last August so I snapped it up. As it happens I have since come across the audio book so it was the audio that I ended up listening to and the narrator did a cracking job. It was funny though as he voiced one of his characters exactly like Harry H Corbett from Steptoe and Son, which made me laugh. There are all kinds of real people in this book as well as fictional characters - Darwin, Faraday, Babbage, Brunel and other members of "the club" but also Florence Nightingale, and there are lots of well known phrases used in this book but as if for the first time or quite literally, "ship shape and Bristol fashion", "Ockham's Razor", "the shirt off his back", etc. No one is quite what they seem, the bad guys are not always the bad guys and the plot has many twists and turns before the end. I liked George Philips the doctor, but I also liked Ockham quite a lot, he was a very interesting character indeed! There's a nice blend of fact and fiction in this book which I enjoyed very much. 4.5 stars

Book reviewed 24 Feb 2010
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars exciting and illuminating, 8 Oct. 2009
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This review is from: The Secrets of the Lazarus Club (Paperback)
A well-researched, compelling read. Historical fiction with a glossy, modern-crime-genre feel. Both enlightening and entertaining, Lazarus Club immerses the reader in the milieu of gritty industrial Britain with cameos by some of the era's most fascinating and eccentric personalities. In addition to the copious background research and atmospheric scene-setting, one of the novel's strengths is the flawed protagonist. Phillips is all the more likeable for his sometimes questionable actions. He is no ideal fictional hero, but rather an identifiable, thoroughly human character fumbling his way through the increasingly strange and frantic events into which he is drawn. I purchased this book after seeing overwhelmingly positive (4*) reviews on Amazon... not sure where these have gone? I highly recommend this book for history lovers and fiction junkies alike.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good yarn but spoiled by mock historical scenario, 24 May 2013
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This novel is wound intimately around real historical characters and events but invents stories and relationships between them which (almost certainly) did not occur. It began like an extended Wikipedia entry for the great and the good of the Victorian scientific and medical world but once the fictional elements were introduced they just didn't seem believable, also some of the language put into the characters' mouths felt more modern than Victorian. Not a bad plot and story but it just didn't sit well with the factual historical background.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Secrets of the Lazarus Club, 10 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: The Secrets of the Lazarus Club (Paperback)
I don't usually read crime or science fiction, though I do have a weakness for historical fiction, which is why I was drawn to 'Secrets of the Lazarus Club'. Set in the mid-nineteenth century, it is a wonderfully Dickensian evocation of a murky,sinister London of gaslight, mutilated bodies and anatomy theatres. The story weaves around real people and events. There is a very gruesome scene at the start,but happily nothing else is as stomach-churning. The main protagonist, a young surgeon, is plunged into the mystery of corpses washing up in the river, and at the same time is drawn into the secret circle of a group of very eminent Victorians. I enjoyed the innovative use of real characters whose important inventions and ideas have shaped the world as we know it today. The author has clearly researched thoroughly, and modern-sounding colloquial expressions, on investigation, turn out to come from that period, if not even earlier. I might just take issue, all the same, with the likelihood of a woman such as Florence Nightingale saying, "I may be just a woman but....". Only a man would put those words in her mouth. Indeed Florence was known to refer to herself as, "a man of action". But that little quibble aside, this was a thoroughly good yarn, the multi-layered plot twisting and turning to sustain momentum and suspense, and making for a very engrossing read. I'll be looking out for his next novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A masterly twisting of history, 4 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: The Secrets of the Lazarus Club (Paperback)
A fine example of how, with a remarkable imagination and untold hours of research, storytelling can be expertly sewn into historical fact to create a tale so compelling that no seams are visible.

Pollard draws us into the many worlds of Victorian London - from the seemingly ordered society of wealthy gentlemen to the gritty underworld of hired killers - through an all-star cast of the greatest minds of the time. These familiar names from history books become fully formed characters, whose motives, actions and roles in this gripping thriller are rendered utterly believable.

Horror scenes that evoke the best kind of Hammer film, and epic Bond-style chase sequences are combined with enough personal detail and hints of romance to satisfy all types of readers. (There's even a bit of bodice ripping, though perhaps not in the way one might expect...)

Along the way we glimpse the impact of the enormous changes that took place during this century, and learn the back-stories of some of the most important inventions of the era. Perhaps the greatest skill lies in the fact that it's often impossible to tell the fact from the fiction.
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5.0 out of 5 stars utterly brilliant!, 12 April 2011
This review is from: The Secrets of the Lazarus Club (Paperback)
Brilliant - Utterly Brilliant. I love history, real-life events, science and technology, health issues and mystery so this book ticks all the boxes. Characters are described in such detail, that their inclusion was obviously researched and planned to the last top hat. The story romps along, gathering pace with just enough red herrings to keep the reader on their toes and hooked but not confused. A fabulously entertaining story is wound around historical fact showing creativity and innovative imagination. Loved all the medical/surgical/cadaver health issues and I thought the inclusion of Florence was masterful - it was like several stories in one. Brunel was larger than life and I was not disappointed in his portrayel as can happen when well known historical figures are used - he came across as quircky, clever and cunning - the perfect dinner guest! Can't wait until the next book is finished.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read, 30 Mar. 2011
This review is from: The Secrets of the Lazarus Club (Paperback)
I have read a lot of excellent reviews about this book and was not disappointed and will definitely be recommending it to friends! This novel is beautifully written, a fantastic read. As well as Victorian London, the historical figures are interesting and exciting and come to life throughout this gripping story. An intelligent and insightful plot that could well have happened in this era. It is certainly a page turner. Looking forward to the next book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic historical novel, 27 July 2013
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This review is from: The Secrets of the Lazarus Club (Paperback)
I absolutely adored this novel. Excellently written, exciting, twisting plot and very believable characters. As a 3rd year history honours student I find historical novels particularly interesting. Also, Dr Tony Pollard is at the university of Glasgow, where I study so was thrilled to find out he had written a book. Definitely recommend.
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The Secrets of the Lazarus Club
The Secrets of the Lazarus Club by Tony Pollard (Paperback - 27 Aug. 2009)
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