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A Worthy Addition to the Newbury & Hobbes Series
on 23 June 2011
Following on from his first two hugely enjoyable Newbury & Hobbes Investigations (The Affinity Bridge and The Osiris Ritual), George Man bring us his latest offering in his steampunk-flavoured series; The Immorality Engine.
Once again focusing on the exploits of occult expert, and agent to the crown, Maurice Newbury alongside his assistant, Miss Veronica Hobbes, we find Sir Maurice at a new low. He is despondent and introverted, hiding away in a seedy opium den, slave to his desire for the drug. He has been consumed by addiction, his duties as Her Majesty's agent as much neglected as his own welfare. However, all is not lost: enter Miss Hobbes and Sir Charles Bainbridge, Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard and best friend to Newbury. The pair have come to rescue Newbury from his self-destructive anaesthesia and give him purpose once more. Thus, they bait him with the prospect of a tantalising new case: a series of robberies are being committed. Ordinary in of itself, were it not the fact that the perpetrator continues to ply his trade after his own death, his corpse residing in the police mortuary.
With this intriguing basis for a story in place, Mann goes on to lead us through a tale of mad doctors, crazed cults, sickly prophets and clandestine societies, all of which is injected with his usual, boundless energy. Action sequences crackle with electricity, visceral scenes burn with bloody horror, characters radiate with a sense of truth and the pace steams through every chapter with a focused vision of what shape the story will eventually take.
The cast are also granted more room for development than in previous instalments, much to their credit, and the relationship between Newbury and Miss Hobbes is afforded some much deserved exploration, which helps to shed more light and their thoughts and feelings, and on the kind people they truly are.
The villains are also tremendously enjoyable and it feels as though Mann had as much fun writing them as he did from writing his heroes and heroines. Their motivations add depth and colour to the world in which they exist, broadening the story's scope. It also aids in revealing the true nature and motives of one of the key players in Mann's universe.
I really can't recommend this book enough. I enjoyed every page as it whisked me through the story at break-neck speed as I found myself hungry for the next revelation the story would bring. There is an all-encompassing sense of advancement, of progress, that pushes the characters further and enriches them with new-found depth. You find yourself constantly fascinated and wishing for more.
George Mann has managed to create a work that he should be immensely proud of. It bursts with an enthusiasm that can not fail to pull you in and hold you in its thrall. He is unquestionably one of the most prominent and talented writers in the steampunk genre and I greatly anticipate more from this extraordinarily talented writer.