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Not as good as I had expected
on 20 February 2011
A shooting at a pawn brokers in Victorian London, which leaves three dead, is investigated by the recently formed Detective Branch. Pyke heads up the investigation in spite of others trying to muscle their way in.
The back cover of this book led me to expect something historical, mysterious and atmospheric but for me this didn't really come across in the reading. The story and the individual elements within it are good but something about the way it flows, or does not flow, made the reading a little 'clunky'. The tale itself could easily have been a modern detective story but to make it more authentic the author throws in, somewhat uncomfortably to my mind, chunks of historical detail.
I tried really hard to enjoy this book but felt that in spite of all the ingredients being included they did not fuse together well and it even felt a little unfinished. For me, too much unnecessary detail was sometimes included; sentences and paragraphs could have been condensed to improve the flow of the writing.
I do wonder, however, since the author is a university lecturer in English, whether I'm not missing something. After all he is published and has had previous books nominated for awards. I know there will be plenty who will really enjoy this historical crime novel, especially those who appreciate a lot of detail.
It's a real shame that I couldn't enjoy this book more than I did but I just didn't feel that it came across as atmospheric as it should have. I did enjoy the underlying story and I did want to find out 'whodunnit' but I also felt a little let down by the slow pace and lack of cohesion between the elements. I think the book will be OK for some, just not for me.