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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 3 December 2009
What a fantastic read. I would recommend this to anyone. This book is chilling and twisted and engaging and keeps you on the edge of your seat all the way through. Set against the background of poverty-stricken Victorian London and particularly following actors in the music halls, "Dan Leno & The Limehouse Golem" is an psychologically disturbing and wonderfully macabre book - with a really great twist that you never see coming...!
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on 9 April 2017
Really enjoyed this book, took two days to read it.. Really gripping story
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on 9 December 2011
I started off reading this book wondering if it was going to be too 'bitty' Each chapter seemed to be written by and about someone different. But as I got in to it I found it all made perfect sense and flowed wonderfully from one part to the next. Even though I had a feeling I knew how it was going to end it still had me glued to the book. The ending was so well written I was left wanting to read it again. I didn't want to leave the world he had created and the people I'd got to know.
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on 26 July 2010
Dan Leno And The Limehouse Golem is quite simply a masterpiece. Every aspect of the novel is remarkable. It's a whodunit, though it suggests a couple of credible suspects right at the start. It even convicts its central character to death by hanging before we have even got to know her. Clearly things are not going to be obvious. The novel is also a study in character, especially that of its central actor, Lambeth Marsh Lizzie, later Mrs Elizabeth Cree. It's also an evocation of London in the late nineteenth century, complete with colours, smells, vistas and perspectives. It's a highly literary work, ever conscious of its place beside the genres it skirts. Overall, it's a wonderful example of how form can be used as inventively as plot to create a story.

The novel has a series of interlocking stands. In one our anti-heroine, Lizzie, is accused of the murder of John Cree, her husband. In another, John Cree's diary reveals certain secrets that not only he would have wanted to hide. In a third strand, we learn of Lambeth Marsh Lizzie's past, how she came to a life in the theatre and how she met her husband. A fourth strand follows the career of Dan Leno, a music hall player, worshipper of the silent clown Grimaldi and mentor of Lizzie's stage life. And in a fifth strand we see how, in a great city like London, our paths inevitably cross those of great thinkers, writers, artists and, of course, history itself. Peter Ackroyd thus has his characters cross the paths of a writer, George Gissing, and a thinker of note, one Karl Marx, as they tramp the streets of Limehouse after a day at the library.

As usual, sex has a lot to do with the relationships in the book. It is usually on top, but here it also comes underneath and sometimes on the side of events. Mrs Cree is accused of poisoning her husband. Their married life has been far from conventional, but are its inadequacies the motive for a series of brutal killings of prostitutes and others in the Limehouse area? As a result of the curious placement of certain trophies, the killings are attributed in the popular mind to a golem, a mythical creature made of clay that can change it shape at will. Karl Marx examines the Jewish myths surrounding the subject. Others steer clear of the subject.

Lizzie continues on the stage until she meets her husband. She learns much stagecraft from Dan Leno and eventually resolves to help her husband to complete the play over which he has unsuccessfully laboured. When the book's plot resolves, we are surprised, but then everything makes such perfect sense. And in a real piece of insight, Peter Ackroyd likens the mass murderer to Romaticism perfected, the ultimate triumph of individualism. There is much to stimulate the mind in this thriller.

A reader of this review might suspect that Dan leno And The Limehouse Golem is a difficult read, a book whose diverse strands never converge. But quite the contrary is true: it comes together in a wonderful, fast-flowing manner to a resolution that is both highly theatrical yet thoroughly credible. Read it many times.
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on 18 May 2000
This is a psychological murder-mystery thriller set in Victorian London. It's far better than the usual historical novels - Ackroyd makes you feel almost as if you're there by piling up an accumulation of small physical details- the smell, the taste, the colours, the sounds of the period. His ear for dialogue and his depth of knowledge are very impressive too. Plots aren't ALWAYS his strong point, but the plot of this is good, subtle and complex, peripherally drawing in major 19th century figures like Karl Marx and George Gissing.
The narrative piles on details until eventually the strands gather together and you realise you've somehow become drawn into the mind of a psychopath.
I'm not keen usually on murder or horror - and I find some of the details repellent. But artistically they are necessary, and they work very well indeed. I highly recommend this book.
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on 8 October 2007
This is an extremely good example of what I'd call 'a thinking man's crime novel' (mind you, I can immensely enjoy 'easy' novels too). This is no easy reading, and at times you'll wonder who the criminals or even the crimes really are, but in return what you get is an astounding story with an incredibly atmospheric description of London in the 1880s, mixing historical and fictional characters. I loved it from the first page to the last!
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on 24 January 2004
I won't waste words; it doesn't get much better then this. However, as one reviewer above has noted, please don't expect a mystery in the traditional format. Not to be condescending, but I rather suspect that the intended mystery is (as in all Ackroyd's fiction) the mystery of London itself. Endlessly interlocking patterns of history and personality...cheap revelations aren't really what this is all about!
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on 24 January 2004
I won't waste words; it doesn't get much better then this. However, as one reviewer above has noted, please don't expect a mystery in the traditional format. Not to be condescending, but I rather suspect that the intended mystery is (as in all Ackroyd's fiction) the mystery of London itself. Endlessly interlocking patterns of history and personality...cheap revelations aren't really what this is all about!
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How to explain this impressive thriller set in late 19th London? Yes, it certainly is a gruesome story with a tense sense of foreboding. But before all else Ackroyd has crafted such a technically accomplished work, because his tale is intriguingly delivered (like the celebrated Japanese film "Rashomon") through several interweaving narratives:

- There is a long court report from a Police Gazette style newspaper;
- there are extracts from what is presented as the diary of a murderer;
- there are the personal memories recounted by a music hall actress;
- there are the musings of a police detective;
- there is an `objective' narrator looking back on the past;
- and there are sections where we get the perspective of real historical figures whose lives are said to have touched on this fictional psychopath (including Karl Marx, Dan Leno, George Gissing, and the father of Charlie Chaplin).

Each chapter switches between these narratives, so the reader builds up a rich and complex picture of the characters and event. It's a real cracker of a tale presenting Limehouse through the murkiest of Victorian fogs.
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on 15 December 2000
It all starts with the trial of a young woman accused of murder,everybody thinks she has killed her husband.The story goes on and we are brought back in time in order to discover the past of this woman.Her life has been a difficult one,she was a very poor woman with a sick mother to take care of.While a narrator is telling the story of her life we are in front of terrible and brutal killings,all of them commited by night.This novel is a very interesting one the thing that made me love this book is that arriving at the end you realize that all you had read until then has been different...............
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