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Victorian London? "No way, dude," as they apparently used to say then
on 6 September 2012
I don't like writing wholly critical reviews but in truth I thoroughly disliked this book. It purports to be about the Victorian police force in London, but fails to convince in any way. My copy carries an endorsement from Jeffrey Deaver promising that it is "rich with detail, atmosphere and history." It isn't. The descriptions of London (such as they are) are feeble and generic, and the language - so vital in generating a sense of period - is ludicrously inappropriate. The dialogue in particular is absurd. This is supposed to be London in 1889 but within just the first few pages people use such phrases as "no worries", "I'm right on it", and "he's heading up the investigation." These weren't in use in London in 1989, never mind 1889 and phrases like "Where was the beat cop?" still aren't. Conversation is liberally sprinkled with "yeah", "sure" and the like. It's all as phoney as Dick van Dyke's cockney accent and it destroyed any possible atmosphere or authenticity, making the book almost unreadable for me.
I wasn't convinced by the characters, the plot, the language or the period setting. This is a run-of-the-mill psychotic serial killer story with many of the clichés of the genre well in evidence. It would have been unremarkable set in the USA in the present day; set in a paper-thin caricature of Victorian London it is plain silly.
Others have obviously enjoyed the book but I really, really didn't, and to me at least, an American author trying to pass this off to a British audience is simply insulting.