Top positive review
Another great book in this series
on 2 May 2013
Having read the first two books in this series, I naturally plodded on to the third - the Dead Man's Smile. As other reviewers have said, this book goes further back in time and is set in a decade which preceeds the previous two volumes' settings. Also, the story is removed (relatively) far away from the streets of London and based primarily in Paris. For me, part of the charm of the previous books was the way Brandreth used his first hand knowledge of London - a city many English readers will be at least vaguely familiar with - to recreate street-by-street detail. Those familar, or au fait, with the urban layout of Paris may really enjoy a simialr aspect in this third volume, but for me (despite having visited Paris a fair few times), I quite missed the familiar and intruiging Victorian London setting. At the same time, hats must be taken off to Brandreth for doing something different and sharing experience of his time in France with the reader. Now, as for the plot/substance of this novel, it would have been rather difficult to guess the outcome and identity of the murderer from reading the first 90% of the novel. Very few clues are given. I quite like that, however, as it leaves the reader free to come up with their own idea; not from clues in things said or done, but from the more general impression one gets from the characters. This is where Brandreth excels, in my opinion. His books are not merely a game whereby the observant reader spots references to the odd object/quote here and there, and pieces together clues in their own head. Brandreth is very strong at creating characters - not always transparent or easy to understand - but often complex/realistic enough to give the plot some extra dimension. That being said, I can think of one or two characters in this book who seem to be as animate/complex as your average ammonite (Eddie Garstang - the lone American in particular). All in all, this was a very enjoyable read and the fact that I instantly ordered the fourth volume on my Kindle, a matter of seconds after finishing this, is testament to the quality of the entire series.