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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another serial killer stalks the alleys of Victorian Whitechapel
Written in a diction so authentic I could believe the author has a time machine in the garden shed in which she traverses history to pick up the slang, innuendo and argot of the Victorian streets of Whitechapel and beyond.

The book deals with the intertwining stories of one Corney Sage, comic and clog dancer who has graced the stages of many a disreputable...
Published on 13 Oct 2009 by David Spanswick

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Loads of period atmosphere
As you read this you are taken on a tour of Victorian music halls, and the haunts of those who performed in them, and the major strength of the book is the authenticity of this tour. Peopled by procession of grotesque characters, almost everyone of whom seems to look out only for themselves, this is a story which is almost relentlessly dark. Our hero, Corney Sage, is the...
Published on 13 Dec 2009 by Andy Edwards


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another serial killer stalks the alleys of Victorian Whitechapel, 13 Oct 2009
By 
David Spanswick (Brighton United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Walking in Pimlico (Hardcover)
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Written in a diction so authentic I could believe the author has a time machine in the garden shed in which she traverses history to pick up the slang, innuendo and argot of the Victorian streets of Whitechapel and beyond.

The book deals with the intertwining stories of one Corney Sage, comic and clog dancer who has graced the stages of many a disreputable music hall and the somewhat mysterious Miss Phyllida Marweather, who is many things besides but I am not here to spoil your pleasure of reading this brilliant and bursting piece of outrageous fantasy fiction.

Ann Featherstone has adopted the great traditions of story telling and quoted the same within her text. She has Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe (and even Virginia Woolf) sitting at her shoulder as she writes as well as such contemporaries as Anne Perry and Sarah Waters.

Her tale is a deeply textured tapestry of intrigue, double-dealing `orrible murders; a picaresque confection that should satisfy any reader not only of the genre but also for the jaded reader who might be looking for something a little different, and different this book definitely is, I have not read anything quite like it before.

Ms Featherstone is a researcher (see her other books, essays and articles) and has woven that research into a thumping good read but unlike other writer of historical crime she does not let the research show, the narrative flows in an uninterrupted way that the likes of Dan Brown could only dream of.

I give the book 5 stars without any reservation as it ticks every single box as a great yarn, a captivating mystery, an historical insight and an unputdownable read
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 31 Dec 2009
By 
Paul S. Ell (NI, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Walking in Pimlico (Hardcover)
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This book is rare indeed. Impeccable research captures the sounds, sights, smells, and murder of nineteenth-century London. The product of impeccable research the novel is narrated in the first person through two characters, one the murderer.

Although the reader, due to the nature of the narrative, learns of the `killer' early on, this really doesn't spoil the fast pace and page-turning nature of this book. Such is the care to detail, and the writing skill of the author, the book remains compelling.

I have no reservations in recommending this book to all who like thrillers, quality writing, or historical novels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Loads of period atmosphere, 13 Dec 2009
By 
Andy Edwards "staxasoul" (Essex UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Walking in Pimlico (Hardcover)
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As you read this you are taken on a tour of Victorian music halls, and the haunts of those who performed in them, and the major strength of the book is the authenticity of this tour. Peopled by procession of grotesque characters, almost everyone of whom seems to look out only for themselves, this is a story which is almost relentlessly dark. Our hero, Corney Sage, is the exception though, as he does at least demonstrate some fellow feeling, and he is the perfect counterpoint to the shadows that surround him.

The language of the book is that of the era, which took a little getting used too, but once we're into the story, it becomes natural. The plot involves many unexpected twists and turns, each adding to tension of the central plot device, but I did feel that at times the pace was a little lacking. I also felt that some scenes were included merely to allow the author to demonstrate her knowledge, adding little to the story. More positively, the villain is a satisfyingly complex mixture (literally - read the book and you'll know what I mean), who hunts down the 2 people able to link crime and perpetrator and the cat and mouse element provides the best parts of the book.

There's lots to recommend about this then, an involving storyline, interesting characters, authentic period detail and healthy doses of humour (mostly of the black variety) poignancy, pathos and passion. Reading like an updated "penny dreadful", this will thrill lovers of Victoriana.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More a historical novel than a crime story, 29 Nov 2009
By 
AR (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Walking in Pimlico (Hardcover)
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Corney Sage is a small-time performer in the music halls and circuses of Victorian London. When his friend, a prostitute named Bessie Spooner, is brutally beaten to death in the yard behind their workplace, Corney, along with another prostitute, Lucy, are the only witnesses. The shadowy figure of the killer haunts them as they flee from town to town, trying to escape him. But the killer's identity is more surprising than anyone could have realised...

A colourful tale of murder and circus folk in Victorian England, this is certainly an authentic book. The author is clearly an authority on the subject, fleshing out the story with minor details that makes the world of Corney Sage come alive. His voice seems note-perfect, a sympathetic protagonist. The low-life landlords, show folk and prostitutes he mixes with are portrayed vividly, down to their blackened teeth and poor spelling, whilst the upper-class characters seem to inhabit a different world. Class is an important issue in respect to the identity of the killer, but I won't dwell on it here.

The viewpoint of the story alternates between characters, and the identity of the killer is quickly revealed to the reader. We learn the killer's motivations, and see how they plan to get away with their crimes.

But I have to admit that I didn't find this book very interesting. It took me a couple of weeks to read, which is very slow for me, and was never that keen to pick it up and find out what happened next, which isn't great for a crime novel. As a piece of historical fiction it works really well, although I found the ending a bit blurry and disappointing, told from Corney's viewpoint as he battles with illness, the story takes on a hallucinatory air that gave everything an uncertain feeling. More of a period piece than a riveting crime read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable stroll through Victorian England..., 19 Nov 2009
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Walking in Pimlico (Hardcover)
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...even if it does seem to take a while to really hit its stride. Featherstone's novel is part of that subgenre of Victorian pastiche, taking a more modern approach to the kind of penny dreadful plots that were commonplace in the era and telling its tale of two people caught up in the aftermath of a murder through the mimicked voices of a music hall comedian and a murderer. It takes a while for the voice of performer Corney Sage to quite convince - at first he's written in an addressing the audience to set up the joke style (it's only three paragraphs in before he's urging the reader to 'stop me') which seems more affected than effective. By contrast, she seems more comfortable with the murderer's voice from the start: the killer may have most of the hallmarks of the criminal with the superior intellect that are almost a given for the genre, but he seems far less like an imitation than Corney.

But it's the tale that matters, and while at times the novel might sprawl somewhat as Corney's attempts to evade the killer lead him through the various playgrounds of rich and poor alike, it still manages to engage even if it rarely surprises. There's no real mystery to the novel, but it does carry you along through its occasionally vividly recreated world with just enough curiosity about the outcome for that not to be a problem.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deliciously dark tale., 18 Nov 2009
By 
RM/TM (UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Walking in Pimlico (Hardcover)
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Corney and Lucy, two music-hall performers, witness the murder of friend Bessie, and are forced to go on the run after being spotted by her killer.

This tale is authentically written, with reference to the seedier parts of Victorian London, and use of traditional vernacular. Sinister, quiet, dark streets and alleys contrast with bawdy and colourful theatre interiors. Characters are mildly stereotyped (lovable rogues, heart-of-gold working girls, aloof toffs) but still very believable.

The murderer is identified quite early on, and some of the plot 'twists' are fairly obvious. Also, there are a number of somewhat unlikely coincidences as hunter and prey chance upon each other at various far-flung locations - but this is still a pretty enjoyable read, and rather out of the ordinary, amidst today's ten-a-penny formulaec chick lit novels and painfully forensic crime thrillers.

Dickens meets Jack the Ripper meets League of Gentleman! Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great historical novel, 15 Oct 2009
This review is from: Walking in Pimlico (Hardcover)
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I have always been fascinated by "real" history. I care not a great deal for the shenanigans of past nobility and royalty. I am more interested in what ordinary people did, the music they listened to and the ways they entertained themselves. So I found this book to be a delight. It breathes history in a fashion just not taught in schools, which is a real shame.

That is not to say that it should be considered a history book. Far from it, it is a gritty murder story first and foremost. However, the author obviously cares enough about the subject to wrap it up in an historical package which is both informing but more importanly entertaining. I don't want to say any more on that for fear that I may put people off. Bottom line, this book is a fun read!

This book isn't a whodunnit, as whodunnit narrates a large part of the book. More of a howdunnit, or even a wheredunnit, if such a thing exists.

Very good first effort indeed.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Entertaining Read, 20 Sep 2009
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Walking in Pimlico (Hardcover)
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Ann Featherstone, who has written non-fiction before now gives us her first novel, and what a corker it is. Set in London and the Midlands of the nineteenth century the sqaulor and poverty of the time is really bought to life, as well as the common entertainments.

Young Bessie Spooner is viciously killed in the Whitechapel area after attempting a bit of blackmail, and her colleagues Lucy who witnesses it and comedian Cornelius 'Corney' Sage who may know a bit too much are scared. Taking to their heels the pair disappear in different directions taking any secret of the murderer with them, but can they survive and evade the grips of the murderer?

Told by Corney Sage and the murderer this is a tale that will throw you back into Victorian England amongst the more seedier side of life, and more than keep you entertained. If you are hoping for a mystery though you will be disapponted, because it is obvious who the killer is and why they had to murder Bessie even before it is even narrated in this novel (which it is before the first hundred pages have been read). This is a tale of what secrets and vices people have, and how people can mask themselves; as in the theatre, what you see isn't always what you should see.

With cons, common low entertainment, vicious murders and the looming prescence of sapphic love this is a novel that harks back to the days of the sensation novel and will be loved by those who like the Sarah Waters Victorian books.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable - but lacks a spark., 6 Jan 2010
By 
R. Shear - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Walking in Pimlico (Hardcover)
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There are some many good points about this novel that I feel churlish only awarding it a three-star review, but after finishing the book my overwhelming thought is "what might have been". For all the good points the book has, it is undone by never having that spark of excitement essential for any good thriller.

The positives are many: the novel appears to have been meticulously researched. The author creates a very detailed tableaux of Victorian England that alone makes the book worth reading for anyone with an interest in that period of history. The sights, sounds and smells of the time are vividly portrayed.

The writer has the basis of a great plot - Corney Sage witnesses the murder of a friend and colleague and is forced to run, fearing that he will be hunted down by a killer seeking to tie up loose ends that might incriminate him.

There is a wonderful variety of characters in the novel, all unique and lovingly fleshed out by the author.

The writer takes an interesting stance by narrating different chapters of the book by Corney Sage and the Murderer. Whilst this style of writing can be very effective in novels, I feel that it does not work very well in this one. By allowing the Murderer to narrate half of the book, the element of "whodunnit?" is immediately removed, thus robbing the book of one element of surprise so useful in thrillers.

The author also fails to make the reader engage with her characters. Corney Sage is not an especially likeable character, and the Murderer is not sufficiently dastardly and evil that you long for him to be brought to justice. In the end this is the main problem with the novel, you just don't care what happens at the climax, which is a real shame, as all the good the author has done is undone by this fatal flaw.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid literary entertainment, 24 Sep 2009
By 
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Walking in Pimlico (Hardcover)
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With its wonderful depiction of Victorian England, a grim Whitechapel murder-thriller plot, some cross-dressing adventures, all caught up in the theatrical world of music halls and circuses, Ann Featherstone's Walking in Pimlico will almost certainly appeal to fans of Sarah Waters who miss the spicy Victorian melodrama of her earlier novels such as Fingersmith and Tipping The Velvet.

Featherstone, previously the co-author of an academic study of the Victorian Clown, clearly knows the period she is writing about, filling the authentic characterisation with authentic and relevant background details that capture the contrast between seediness and the glamour of the period, as well as the seediness behind the glamour of another profession that isn't entirely unconnected from "the oldest profession" itself. There is however no info-dumping of academic research here - everything is in the service of the characterisation and the plot.

Written from a number of first-person viewpoints with an authentic sense of the language and idiom that is appropriate for the class background of each of the characters, the period is brought vividly to life, not least the bawdy music hall comedian and circus clown Corney Sage (also known as Professor Hugh Moore on account of his comic credentials). On the run from a dangerous killer, a well-dressed gent he has witnessed murdering one of the working girls at a Whitechapel music hall show, Corney finds it's safer now to keep on the move and on the road in the itinerant lifestyle of the circus clown.

The murder storyline is not the most convincing element of the novel and often takes a backseat to descriptions of other schemes and the colourful lifestyles of performers who must become adept at thievery, deception and impersonation in order to simply get by - but this and the novel's cross-dressing exploits suit the wider theme of the differences in Victorian attitudes towards men and women, and how each have to find different ways to survive the hard times always just around the corner, trying to keep one step ahead of fate eventually catching up with them. Strong characterisation, a colourful setting, a solid literary and historical theme and some wonderful writing combine then to make this an entertaining novel and one that is easy to get thoroughly involved in.
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Walking in Pimlico
Walking in Pimlico by Ann Featherstone (Hardcover - 17 Sep 2009)
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