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on 21 June 2012
THE SOLITARY HOUSE by Lynn Shepherd conjures up so many vivid images that it is like taking trip back in time to Victorian England ala H.G. Wells time machine. The writing is so descriptive you can almost smell the aromas pouring from the sewage laden streets which are inhabited by their equally filthy residents. Add to this scenario a former policeman turned private detective (Charles Maddox), a less than ethical lawyer named Tulkinghorn, some perverted and unscrupulous "fine gentlemen" who will go to any lengths to conceal their secrets, and a couple of mysteries waiting to be solved and you have the makings of a great read.

While pursuing the case of a missing woman for his one and only client, Charles is hired by lawyer Tulkinghorn to discover the identity of the culprit sending threatening letters to one of his rich patrons. We accompany Charles in his journey down the gas lit streets of London as his investigation turns up more information than he had anticipated and he uncovers a plethora of foul deeds perpetrated on the innocent and unaware. Like a bloodhound on the scent Charles pursues these leads, and death, brutality and bodily harm result.

Relationships are the order of the day in this novel and two play pivotal roles in this story. Charles relationship with his uncle whose appears to be suffering from Alzheimer's, and the bonds described in a separate narrative supplied by a young woman named Hester. The reader knows that all of these items somehow tie the mysterious storylines together but is not exactly sure of the "how, who and why" nor the location and purpose of THE SOLITARY HOUSE of the title.

While this novel may not appeal to every reader and some of the pronunciation of words employed by the less educated individuals who appear here and there in the story may be difficult to discern, overall this book is a real treat. If you are a lover of the works of Charles Dickens, this book delivers an atmospheric adventure that will be right up your alley.
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on 26 February 2014
I've read other reviews of this book, and clearly it lies in parallel with Dickens's Bleak House which I confess I haven't read, ditto The Woman in White. Therefore I came to The Solitary House, as it were, from scratch. It's a really interesting read, dense with atmosphere and action, which held my attention throughout. The writing is excellent, and although I'm a lazy reader and don't strive to work out what's coming, I was able to keep in mind the initial task set for former detective Charles Maddox to accomplish while other more pressing and dramatic events were unfolding and links were uncovered. Oddly, I didn't have a mental picture of the protagonist's appearance, but I could feel the dread in the grim London streets of Dickens's time very clearly. A very enjoyable read, and I'll go on to seek out more of Lynn Shepherd's work.
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on 17 April 2017
Badly written, would avoid.
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on 18 May 2015
I've not read this book in this format, but I have read the original Tom All Alone's which is a very fine book conjuring up the Dickensian Victorian scene and with a great sense mystery. It's a powerful novel with a really good theme and is very well written. I would recommend it to anyone who likes a period atmosphere and wants to be swept along with a really good story.

I also wanted to say that I think it's completely unacceptable for 'trolls' to try and damage someone's professional reputation because of a disagreement with something she said. I happen to disagree with Lynn with regard to her J.K. Rowling comments too, but that should be said elsewhere. And I'm totally sure that J.K.Rowling as generous spirited philanthropist as well as a fine writer would deplore anyone trying to damage another author's reputation. So, Lynn, thankyou for your books and keep writing. There are lots of us who enjoy what you write.
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on 19 June 2012
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VINE VOICEon 1 June 2012
I made the mistake of reading the first couple of pages of this novel as soon as it arrived in the mail--a mistake, because I could not tear myself away from it for the next eight hours.

Lynn Shepherd has crafted a superb mystery, which will sweep you back through time, into the fog-bound streets of mid-Victorian London. From the outwardly-respectable barrister's chambers of Lincoln's Inn Fields to the gin-soaked stews of Seven Dials, she conducts her readers on a tour that is as vivid as it is detailed. "The Solitary House" is not merely a mystery that has been plopped willy-nilly into a pseudo-period setting. Ms Shepherd is so steeped in both the history and the literature of 19th-Century London that her exceptionally well-written novel possesses an authenticity that is rare in mysteries nowadays.

I especially enjoyed the manner in which Ms Shepherd's narrative crossed paths with that of Charles Dickens in "Bleak House" (my favourite Dickens novel). The detective, Charles Maddox, in fact, is sent on his investigation by Edward Tulkinghorn, the hardhearted attorney of "Bleak House" (but I shall say no more in order not to spoil it for you). The narrative is so rich with imagery that evokes Dickens that you may very well get your copy of "Bleak House" off the shelf to reread, not only because Dickens' novel becomes more enjoyable with each reading, but also because you will then appreciate Ms Shepherd's allusions fully. Moreover, her twists and turns of plot are guaranteed to keep you reading until the end, which should reward all readers generously, and delight lovers of 19th-century literature absolutely.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed for Vine; Amazon.com
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on 16 November 2016
Just awful. Simply awful
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on 9 April 2014
The very notion that this book is in anyway comparable to the works of Austen from which it allegedly draws inspiration, is laughable. Dull trite and mind numbing stuff.
I read it when it recently, then scanned through it coincidentally a day or two before reading her terribly bitter amd ungracious comments toward JK Rowling (a woman who has done more to open up literature to people of all generations than anyone since Dickens).
I can only recommend she take her own advice and stop writing
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on 9 April 2014
This woman made a big mistake in her career. Hopefully her publishers will realize this. I had a few of her books in my basket beforehand...they are obviously gone now.
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on 22 February 2014
If Lynn Shephard cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It. But by all means keep writing for her own personal pleasure
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