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This novel set in Victorian London uses Thomas De Quincey, controversial author of "Confessions of an English Opium-Easter" and "On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts" as the central character in this novel. De Quincey's essay, "On Murder..." dramatised the infamous Ratcliffe Highway killings which terrorised the country in 1811, when the inhabitants of both a shop and a tavern were murdered viciously. Now it is 1854 and De Quincey and his daughter, Emily, are staying in London at the request of an unknown benefactor, who has arranged lodging for them. However, when there is an apparently motiveless murder of an entire family which mirrors that of the Ratcliffe killings, De Quincey's knowledge of the crimes makes him a suspect.

"There is no such thing as forgetting..." wrote De Quincey and he must go back in time to discover why his work and reputation are being used against him. In many ways this is an excellent novel - Detective Inspector Sean Ryan and Constable Becker are great characters, as is De Quincey's daughter. However, I do agree strongly with the previous reviewer - with the obvious research that has gone into this novel, Americanisms like "cookie" and "sidewalk" jar horribly. Also, it did sometimes seem that the author was insistent on using every bit of research and side stories, such as that featuring Dr John Snow and the cholera epidemic, did not also fit the storyline. Overall, though, this is an exciting read, with past crimes intruding on the present, conspiracy in high places and a fast moving plot.
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An absolutely riveting tale of truth and fiction by a master storyteller, David Morrell. As has been said, "Page-flipping action, taut atmosphere, and multifaceted characters." That and oh so much more as Morrell takes us back to gas lit London so ably that we feel the fog and watch our step so we don't slip on the cobblestones.

The year is 1811 and a vicious series of killings terrorizes London and all of England. Some 43 years later Thomas De Quincey who wrote "On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts" reappears in London. In less than a week the heinous killings begin again. De Quincey knew the thoughts of a killer so well as was seen in his book. Could he be responsible for the recent deaths?

Murder As A Fine Art is a thinking man/woman's tale rich in history, action packed, stunningly written. Don't miss it!
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on 10 May 2013
David Morrell transports you back 150 years to a time of social deprivation and when London was one of the most unhealthy places to live in the known world. The odour of sewage, the smog, the gaslit streets and the atmosphere of fear caused by the horrific murders are portrayed evocatively.

The story is well researched and certainly inventive, however I did feel at times that the writing became a homage to the level of research undertaken by the author, rather than a novel which told a story. I also felt the pace was slightly off, parts of the plot were revealed to quickly in my opinion and a few of the characters needed a bit more "meat on their bones". I am not a fan of Americans who write novels set in Britain but who feel it acceptable to use American slang rather than the correct words. For example, an English street urchin would not ask for a "cookie" and neither would they stand on "sidewalks". I found this to be off-putting, especially as the author has done such a sterling job by thoroughly researching the era in question.

However, there is no doubt that this is a very original piece of work and the author is passionate about Victorian London. The prose is easy to read and you can clearly imagine being in London as night falls and the fog comes down around you. Overall, it is an entertaining novel and would be a great holiday read.

I give "Murder as a Fine Art" 4 Crosses !

Murder as a Fine Art
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on 13 May 2015
As a fan for many years, I'd been a little disappointed with recent offerings. Still great reads, but not as memorable as some of what I considered his classics (Testament, Brotherhood, Assumed Identity). For me, this is right up there with his best. Absolutely tore through it in one sitting - sleep, overrated - but have since gone back and read at a slower pace to soak up the details and atmosphere. Not sure what else I can say, other than the sequel is now on my must buy list.
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on 6 June 2013
David Morrell is an extremely versatile writer; having penned intelligent spy thrillers, horror, suspense and some period work. With Murder as a Fine Art, he brings you a book he has obviously researched thoroughly in that you can almost imagine being on those foggy streets of 19th century London.

Using Thomas DeQuincy as the central figure and the Ratcliffe Highway murders is an intriguing concept and allows Morrell to draw on rich and bloody past whilst incorporating his own elements into the story. Though it starts out with a copycat killing of the Ratcliffe Highway murders but takes a more interesting turn into a conspiracy and revenge story which I won't spoil for you but which I found to be a nice twist.

Like the previous reviews, i didn't find the Americanism's too jarring (though it was odd he referred to biscuits as 'biscuits' then used cookie later), but the rest of the language and references were expertly used and made for an interesting historical read.
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on 6 January 2014
Having read virtually every one of David Morrell's fiction collection I would say that "Murder as a Fine Art" is up there with the best of them, (everyone will have their own favourite).

As always, the quality and depth of David Morrell"s research is plain to see, as is his interest in the subject matter. Ok, so a couple of very minor Americanisms do creep in, but they in no way detract from the story. It would be easy to assume an error in detail, and considering that the author is from Canada could perhaps have been forgiven. However, I suspect that they are not errors at all and are the intentional use of words Americans especially would be familiar with, however much we in the UK might prefer pavement to sidewalk or street to block. I don't think that David Morrell can be criticized for this, after all, the US would no doubt be the books biggest market.

This is a different style for David Morrell, but it's meant to be. A highly enjoyable read.
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VINE VOICEon 22 February 2016
An absolutely super read, though the murders are really very violent and bloody. However, they are based on the horrible Ratcliff Highway Murders which really happened and were just as awful scaring not only Londoners but people up and down the country.
I found the little group of protagonists, Thomas de Quincey, Emily his daughter, constable Becker and Inspector Ryan very sympathetic characters and you really cared about what they did, said and thought so you were hoping that the conclusion would not diminish the group in any way.
I also like the conceit of writing in the first person at times and third person at others and then given you plain facts about life in those times, like a short history lesson. Apparently books were often written like this in those long off days.
I didn't know David Morrell wrote the Rambo stories. He is a very interesting writer.
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on 22 April 2015
Having seen a glowing review for the second book in this series, I thought I'd read the first, first. A great story, and great research by the author - the details of Thomas de Quincey's life and literary output were superb - but I found the 'lectures' by the author, explaining the historical background, rather clumsy. As he claims in his afterword, it may have been standard for authors of the time to give us this background in the midst of the story, but I didn't care for it. I'm hoping the second novel in the series avoids this. But yes, this book was a gripping if horrifying read about a real series of murders. I shall certainly read the next.
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on 8 October 2013
Fraternity of the Stone was my first Morrell novel, followed by all of Morrell's novels to date. This is a complete departure from his normal style and whilst well presented as a murder story, had it been the first Morrell book I had read, I doubt I would have become a fan.
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on 23 February 2016
given as a gift, he loved it.
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