4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Flawed and Too Long,
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This review is from: The Secrets of the Lazarus Club (Paperback)
'The Secrets of the Lazarus Club' joins to the increasingly popular branch of historical crime where the famous and infamous play a pivotal role in the novel's mystery.
In this case, the main protagonist - Dr George Phillips, is surrounded by figures from the industrial revolution, most notably Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The young and naive doctor finds himself hunted by shadowy murderers and implicated as a serial killer, whilst notaries such as Charles Darwin and Florence Nightingale float around in the background adding authenticity to the author's yarn.
Pollard clearly knows his stuff - his Victorian London, filled with resurrection men, mudlarks and dismembered bodies is vividly portrayed. Unfortunately his story doesn't quite have the legs to cover the book's five hundred pages. There are some excellent scenes - the serial killer element is well handled, offering an interesting alternative to a well trodden path. Sadly, this thread is resolved 200 pages before the end; after that the novel limps towards a laboured conclusion.
I found Pollard's characterisation weak; the famous figures are little more than caricatures and Dr Phillips is annoyingly dim. His friendship with Brunel seems superficial, yet Phillips is happy to go up against murderous villains for little or no reason. Phillips deduces that the murderer must be linked to the 'Lazarus Club', but how he came to this conclusion is beyond me. It is fortunate that many of the characters were insatiable diarists; nearly all of the important discoveries were made thanks to somebody being kind enough to have written their secrets down.
Phillips gradually eliminates his suspects, in a ponderous fashion, each man ruling themselves out, rather than the good doctor actually doing any detecting. When Phillips does finally track down the culprit, the villain defies death so many times even the creators of 'Fatal Attraction' would find it heavy-handed.
In parts 'TSOTLC' is fine historical crime writing, but Pollard's editors have let him down. At two-thirds of the length this would have been a compelling read. Sadly, the novel is over-extended with the improbable, the implausible and once or twice, the impossible. With the novel's early potential long since squandered, the end brought little more than the feeling of relief at having finished. Rather than read this, I would recommend Frank Tallis' increasingly accomplished Liebermann Papers series.
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Initial post: 16 Sep 2012 18:53:24 BDT
Mike G. says:
Personally I found this book an entertaining read and learned a few things at the same time. My guess is that the entertainment value depends on what you are looking for and whether or not you find here. Regardless, I feel that the story is well written, even though it's premise may be somewhat questionable.
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