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Tom-All-Alone's (Charles Maddox 2) Paperback – 6 Sep 2012

3.8 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Corsair (6 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 178033169X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780331690
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 305,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A brilliant and sinister re-make of Bleak House, exposing the vicious underworld of Victorian London. Totally gripping. (John Carey)

A necessary eye for squalor, meticulous research and deft plotting, as well as the ability to handle the difficult God's-eye-view narration with aplomb...you'll be guaranteed to enjoy. (The Guardian)

It s a highly compelling, immaculately written 19th-century murder mystery. (Independent on Sunday)

A grisly period detective story with a light-hearted literary conceit (The Times)

Beautifully written..Shepherd has perfectly caught the tone of voice, ranging from the lawyer Tulkinghorn to Esther Summerson and Inspector Bucket, and describes the horrors of nineteenth century slums more candidly than any Victorian novelist ever could...an absorbing read (Literary Review)

An intelligent, gripping and beautifully written novel which sparkles with bibliophilic glee (The Scotsman)

I can think of no better way to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens than to recommend Tom-All-Alone's. This terrific Victorian mystery begins in dense fog, like Bleak House, and has an unemployed detective reluctantly obeying a summons to the rat-infested London churchyard of Tom-All-Alone's. The corpse of a newborn baby awaits him, marking the start of a case whose Dickensian horros are twinned with a sophisticated understanding of nature of sexual predation. (Joan Smith The Sunday Times)

a gripping thriller. (Woman & Home)

A joyful pastiche of the 19th-century novel. Set in 1850, it occupies a fictional space between Bleak House and The Woman in White. An omniscient 21st-century narrator hovers in the manner of John Fowles in The French Lieutenant's Woman. This is very much a crime novel, with some very nasty crimes indeed, but it's also a witty, literate entertainment that lets the reader play Spot-the-Reference. (Andrew Taylor The Spectator)

There has recently been a rash of crime novels that are sequels or adaptations of classic fiction, mostly leaving long-dead authors turning in their graves. Shepherd's ingenious riff on Dickens's
Bleak House is an exception, a clever and playful mystery stuffed with references to the works of several eminent Victorians.

(Sunday Express)

Book Description

Tom-All-Alone's is a dark and gripping Victorian murder mystery, immersing the reader in a grim London underworld.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a good idea that doesn't quite come off. Using characters from both "Bleak House" and "The Woman in White", the author attempts to fashion a detective story that runs alongside the two classic novels - that is, she is not writing a sequel or a "prequel" but inserting her novel into the same time frame as the two novels she is attempting to emulate.Like the new Sherlock Holmes novel "The House of Silk", she deliberately uses themes that would never have been considered in Victorian times - this is fine but the overall impression is of a muddle. Maybe she is attempting to put too much in- such as the Jack the Ripper suggestion - certainly her display of her own knowledge is not always welcome and the contemporary asides are just an intrusion. Considering that Charles Maddox is supposed to be a great detective there is an awful lot that he misses or only latches on to when it is too late!
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By FictionFan TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 Mar. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I realise I'm out of step with most other reviewers, but I found this book a major disappointment after the wonderful Murder at Mansfield Park. There is no doubt that Lynn Shepherd writes well and has the ability to conjure up the atmosphere of Victorian London. However I felt that in this book she tried too hard to pack in references to some of the greatest novels of that age and in so doing disrupted the flow of her own plot.

The main reference is of course to Bleak House, but to set oneself up for a comparison to Dickens and then not to include any of the fun and joyousness that lightens the tone of even Dickens' darkest novels seems a strange decision and one that didn't work for me. Again, as she did in Murder at Mansfield Park, Shepherd twists the characters and plot of Bleak House but this time in a way that really grated. In MAMP, she gave us the enjoyable character of Mary to replace those characters she had made unlikeable - in this novel, I found all the characters unlikeable. And the irritating omniscient narrator device, constantly dragging us forward to the present day to look back on Victorian London with an air of smug superiority, became a really annoying distraction as the book wore on.

The first half of the book meandered along without giving us a real idea of what the detective Charles Maddox was trying to investigate - was it the disappearance of his sister, the deaths of the babies in the churchyard, the Tulkinghorn connection?
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Powerful spin off novel from Dickens's Bleak House. This is very well written and shows a close eye for the minutiae of Victorian life, especially the seamy aspects. This book provides in effect a potential alternative interpretation of some of the events and characters in Dickens's classic novel, an interpretation which concerns themes of child abuse and exploitation and graphic Ripper-style killings, which Dickens would not have been able to write for publication. There are also references to Wilkie Collins's Woman in White, which I have read but with the details of which I am rather less familiar. While I enjoyed the writing, it does leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth because of some of these themes and slightly besmirches my view of Bleak House itself - but it is a fascinating and well-executed literary exercise.
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Format: Hardcover
I can't fault Lynn Shepherd's elegant literary style, or the consummate research that has gone into this book; her passion for Dickens, Wilkie Collins, mid-Victorian London, the Sir John Soane house etc. shines through every page. And yet by the end of the book, I felt really rather irritated by all the pastiche and the deliberate use of characters, created by Dickens in 'Bleak House' (Mr Tulkinghorn, Inspector Bucket etc.), and Wilkie Collins in 'The Woman in White' and above all, I felt dubious about the way so many incidents and motifs have been borrowed from elsewhere. Of course, this is Lynn Shepherd's method and some readers will love the clever twists on the familiar (Jack the Ripper, for example) and will enjoy spotting the references but by the end, I'd had more than enough. In fact, the last page of the book left me feeling deeply annoyed! Just when you thinks it's all over, a real life person is lobbed in! I suppose this genre, seen by some as homage and as parasitism by others, doesn't appeal to me, or at any rate, it didn't work for me here. I do love 20th/21st century 'Vic. Lit.', but I prefer books where the author has created his/her own characters -for example, Sarah Waters in 'Fingersmith' or Michel Faber in 'The Crimson Petal and the White'.

Such a pity---Charles Maddox was an engaging character and I'd have liked to have known more about Molly. I'd have much preferred it if these characters had been allowed to live and breathe outside of the Dickensian framework.
A good book, but ultimately, the use Lynn Shepherd made of the characters Dickens created wasn't to my taste and I have considerable doubt as to whether books of this kind are a legitimate form of homage. I suspect someone who hasn't read 'Bleak House' will enjoy it more than someone who has!
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