3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 27 June 2013
First experience of Steampunk started by my having to find out what it was. Now I know and have dipped by toe in the genre I'm impressed. Turned out to be science-fiction, occultism and conspiracy theory set in late Victorian times. Mann cleverly combines these elements with convincing characters,good and bad. His mechanical life -support machines and Jurassic park creatures are believable and are a different twist on Victorian ingenuity.The plot has enough twists and turns to keep you thinking;and London is'nt given the standard Dickensian/Holmesian atmosphere which adds to the refreshing differnce this novel has.Well constructed and exciting- a welcome move away from the standard Victorian whodunnit. Bring on more Steampunk!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 27 June 2013
Following hot on the heels of the events in 'The Immorality Engine', George Mann brings us the fourth installment in his highly entertaining Newbury & Hobbes series of novels.
Thrusting us right back into a steampunk London of machines, monsters and madmen, we once again find ourselves in the company of Queen's Agents Sir Maurice Newbury, his assistant Miss Veronica Hobbes and Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard, Sir Charles Bainbridge as they investigate a series of brutal murders. The victims savagely mutilated, their chests ripped open, and subsequently deprived of their still-beating hearts. The perpetrator, a fabled assassin known only as 'The Executioner', seemingly able to act with utter impunity as they leave a trail of blood-soaked crime scenes across the city.
Beneath these events is a backdrop of political intrigue, the potential interference of insidious foreign agents, a demonic cult, the founding of the Secret Service and the ever-present Queen Victoria as she clutches at the tenuous threads of power, and her own life. Other ideas, established in previous novels are also given attention, much to the joy of established fans. Though, to elaborate on such things would certainly deprive the reader of discovering such things for themselves.
Thankfully, Mann's easy, flowing style is once again in full force, but there are also some changes in store as well. Changes that seem to indicate an ever-increasing confidence as a writer. He now appears far more comfortable with the world he has created, letting the story summon the steampunk London to mind, no longer having to stress the numerous facets that make it such. Additionally, there has been a shift in the pacing that has typically been apparent in the series thus far. However, this is not a detrimental change. Mann has always shown a flair for energetic scenes of action, and they do still indeed make an appearance this time around. But, they are now more concentrated to the latter parts of the story. More space has been given over to the characters, and their furthering strengths, gifted the responsibility of holding the story. Which they do, admirably so. We are given the chance to see more of what drives them, what makes them who they are, building further on the progress made in the pages of 'The Immorality Engine'.
In another break with the established format, there are also chapters given over exclusively to the villain of the story, to their past, their actions and motivations. It's another welcome change, showing how Mann can comfortably present us with different viewpoints without changing the narrative in a jarring manner. Each chapter flows effortlessly into one another. You never find yourself becoming aware of the outside world, knocked out from the scene the story has created. It's an immersive experience that grabs you tightly and doesn't want to let go.
I adore every moment I spend with these characters and 'The Executioner's Heart' is no exception. They have become stronger, more intriguing, more real, and, as a result, the novel benefits massively from this. I simply couldn't put this book down. It's the best in the series so far. Mann should be commended once again for having the bravery to try new ideas whilst skilfully keeping important elements that we know and love.
In conclusion, I only have one real complaint: The book's ending. It knocked me so damn hard, I felt exhausted for a whole weekend. Whilst some threads are resolved, the events in the closing scenes raise new and exciting prospects, and will leave you utterly desperate for the next book. I once again find myself consumed with anticipation for more adventures with Newbury & Hobbes.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 September 2013
After what feels like a longer break than it probably was, perfectly mannered steampunk adventurers Sir Maurice Newbury and Veronica Hobbes romp back in a new full length adventure. It's a delight to see them again, and although the plot here is a little thin, there is a real sense of their Victorian world becoming murkier and more sinister than it ever has been before. Dark forces gather in the background, and it is they more than the Executioner of the title that apply pressures that make this a breathless and often claustrophobic turn.
on 12 November 2014
Within the small genre of Victorian/Edwardian steampunk detective fiction, this is an excellent book.
The plot, although outrageous, is coherent and well-structured, and the story never loses its momentum.
The characterisation is first-rate: Newbury - eccentric but resourceful and courageous; Miss Hobbes - a modern woman in an old-fashioned world, with spirit and determination aplenty; Bainbridge - commanding, loyal, duty-orientated but no jobsworth, and as competent as the other two. One of the tests of good character-delineation is whether the dialogue succeeds in individuating the characters, and this novel passes the test.
Some of the writing is superb, for instance the drawing of the character of the remarkable Aldous Renwick, and several of the action scenes featuring fights to the death which genuinely have you on the edge of your seat.
Once you develop an inkling of what steampunk is all about (if you're a novice like me), you can't help but enjoy this gripping tale.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 19 June 2013
After pre-ordering this what seems like a lifetime ago it wasnt a disappointment. I loved the rest of the series with its suitably dark steam-punk stories, well written characters and creepy bad guys (and an even creepier queen-empress). This starts us off in the aftermath of the lasts book raid on the facility holding Veronica Hobbs sister with Newbury wallowing in opiates and doing his best to ignore her majesties summons, and then leads us through a rip-roaring investigation into a series of brutal (i was going to say heartless!) murders. George Manns really strong point is his baddies, this ones excellent with just enough menace- and yet a tragic backstory to make them a more rounded character.
Theres a hint of things to come at the end, I think the next book may be the best yet!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 September 2013
Newbury and Hobbes is a steampunk novel described as "The sort of romp sure to delight your average Sherlock Holmes fan." by Starburst Magazine. Well, it is exactly that. It is Sherlock Holmes and Girl-Watson in a steam-punk setting.
There's mechanicals whatchmacallits. Occult goings on. Weird birds, Germans and a half-robot queen! Either that sounded great to you, or it sounded terrible, that probably depends which side of the steam-punk fence you sit on. I like my steam-punk and for the most part this book did not disappoint on that front.
It DID take me a while to get properly into it. Once it picked up and you really got a feel for what was going on I really enjoyed it so if you find the first few chapters seem slow to you, I would encourage you to keep going!
Things I liked:
-Hobbes. Really liked the character and the way she handled certain elements of things I can't tell you about without spoiling the book.
-Robot-queen. I never liked Queen Victoria, and now she's kept alive by machines and possibly growing unstable and egomanical! Funtimes!
Things I didn't like:
-Too much Newbury, not enough Hobbes. I don't know if it's because Hobbes is basically Sherlock Holmes and Hobbes isn't JUST Watson, maybe it's that Hobbes is a female and I like to read female characters with some depth! Whatever the reason there was not enough Hobbes until the end but I refuse to say why that doesn't quite cut the mustard!
Anyway. It's a good read and I'll definitely be looking into the rest of the series!
(Full disclosure: I received this free from the publisher to review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own and are not altered by this.)
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I love a tale that takes me to the world of Steampunk and whilst I do love having magical elements thrown in, I really enjoy getting to the heart of the matter with a cracking mystery which is precisely what you get with George's latest title. The writing brings the element of Victorian society to the fore, utilises the machinations to help preserve the reigning monarch whilst also bringing the sense of wonder as out intrepid heroes go about solving the crime that has been set before them.
Add to the mix some great dialogue, some wonderful twists and all round it was pretty reasonable. However that said , the series has had other books published in it before by another publisher and when these were alluded to within the text I did feel more than a little cheated and would have preferred it if these had also been acquired to allow the reader a matching set.
All round a reasonable enough book and a series that I will continue to enjoy however I really have a lot of homework to do before hand in catching up with the duo's earlier adventures.