In the best sense of the phrase, Gooseberry is a rollicking good yarn.
Octavius is a young man with a past, also known as Gooseberry because of his bulging eyes. His criminal past has given him the skills to solve a mystery that falls the way of his respectable employer, Mr Bruff , a lawyer. The story starts with an assault resulting in the discovery of a mysterious photograph, and takes us through theft, kidnap and even murder. At every turn of events Octavius pits his wits against villains from his own past and the perpetrators of this new conspiracy. While all the time trying to behave in a way that serves as a good role model to his younger brother.
This is an easy and thoroughly enjoyable read, with characters that become real in the minds eye, and a setting that evokes sounds and smells of how I imagine Victorian London to be. The story is told at a good pace, without unnecessary padding and with very good humour. I particularly enjoyed the cameo appearance of Prince Albert and the quirky personality given to him.
Michael Gallagher has obviously gone to great lengths not only to reference real historical events, but to include (and educate us in! ) the language of the period. Together they serve as a great foundation onto which a highly entertaining tale has been told.
Gooseberry should appeal to all ages from young adult onwards.