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4.4 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 14 December 2007
This book charts the path of Pyke, once a Bow Street Runner and sometime crook and takes place in the London of 1835. For those who have read James McGee's Ratcatcher and Resurrectionist there are similarities, both in the main character, Pyke and of course the period that the book takes place. I enjoyed this second book in the series just as much as the first.

This is the second book in the Pyke series and has moved on six years from the `Last days of Newgate.' As has the main character in the book, Pyke. Those who read the previous book will know that Pyke has weedled his way into a far more luxurious life than ever he had as a Bow Street runner. Marrying into the aristocracy no less. But when he is asked to investigate a murder in Cambridgeshire he cannot resist the chance to hone his old skills . . .

The author has the knack of making his novels very atmospheric, dark, dank streets with swirling mists from the river and thick vaporous fog, something we rarely get nowadays. I would say that the author has researched the period very well and it shows. I enjoy the author's writing skills and I hope there are many more to come.
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on 15 May 2009
This is a sort of 'Dickens on steroids' story, featuring our anti-hero Pyke. A sort of poacher turned gamekeeper turned back into poacher type figure. He is hard to love but easy to begrudgingly admire. Intelligent, quick witted, tough as old boots but also a bully, quick tempered and lets face it downright murderous!

I missed the first in this series but I didn't find that a problem in following this story and I am rather inclined to buy it having thoroughly enjoyed this rather dark and gruesome tale.

All manner of early 19th C life is here. Ruthless bankers, Railway magnets, bickering Whigs and Tory's but also some suitably sinister 'Bill Sykes' like baddies, as well as would-be revolutioneries, prostitutes, sweatshops, open sewers and bull baiting! All brought graphically back to life by Pepper in quite at times visceral fashion. Not for the feight hearted or the sqeamish.

Pyke is reluctantly called to action as he is coerced into a world of violence, murder, blackmail, corruption, thievery, ruthless big business, lowdown politics and threats to those who he loves.

As a couple of other reviews have mentioned the story at times threatens to lose itself in it's own complexity and the more far fetched 'Ripping Yarn' elements at times felt a out of step with the more gritty and realistic elements of the story.

But I found much to enjoy here. The book was fast paced and exciting from the beggining. Pyke, though utterly ruthless and at times bordering on pychotic, is a compelling central figure who I was (rather disturbingly) routing for from the off despite his far from subtle methods.

If you like your Victorian history, like murder mystery and don't mind blood and guts, you will like this I'm sure.
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on 27 May 2008
It's been a couple of years since Pyke worked as a Bow Street runner, and much has changed: he is a married man now, father to a five-year old son, and a wealthy banker. But deep down he's still the same, and when coerced (blackmailed rather) by Sir Robert Peel to investigate into a gruesome murder in Huntingdon Pyke sets out to do so in his inimitable style: cooperate or face the consequences. Before long Pyke realizes the Huntingdon-murder is not the solitary act of a lonesome lunatic but has connections with the world of business he moves in himself now, and he and his family face perhaps worse threats than in his days as a Bow Street runner. As he says at a certain point himself: 'It had been easier (...) when people came at him with pistols and brickbats rather than handshakes and contracts.'

As in 'The last days of Newgate' Pyke goes at it full throttle like a sort of natural element set on an unalterable course, all the more so when his wife and son are threatened, resulting in some pretty violent (even gruesome) scenes. However, what to my mind makes Pyke such a life-like and likeable hero is the fact that we also get to see his intimate self: how deeply he loves his wife and dotes on his son, and regrets missteps from his earlier days. Pepper serves it all up in a delightful prose, very straight-to-the-point (as Pyke himself would) and yet deeply atmospheric at the same time, with superb descriptions of London in the 1830s.

Pyke has rapidly become one of my all-time favourite characters, and I eagerly await his further adventures.
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on 9 December 2013
An inspiring piece of detective writing based in the era of William IV. The filth and crime underworld realistically described together with political intrigue and the worst excesses of grasping capitalism. A tour de force.
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on 8 May 2013
Oh I love this author's works. Book 2 is just as good Book 1 and I can't wait to get a chance to read Book 3. Great scenery setting, the poverty, the dirtiness, the unhappiness, the weather and muddy roads - Andrew P just knows how to involve the reader and I really felt the atmosphere of his settings. A bit of dirty politics going on but not too imposing. Main character is a real tough guy with a mean streak but clearly the tough life has made him what he is. Some great twists to this plot. One thing that really strikes me about this era - could they really get away with murder so easily? If so then it proves the uncaring attitude towards the poor which this book captures.
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on 8 April 2012
The second Pyke novel, and another that I couldn't put down ...but neither did I want to finish it, I enjoyed it so much. Andrew Pepper isn't worried about shocking us. If you are new to the Pyke novels, be careful what you read online. There are so many reviewers who give far too much of the plot away. After the first novel where we gasped at Pyke's exploits, we now see a slightly different side to him. Pyke is still downright awkward and impossible to get to know (which in itself is appealing) but now we start to feel more empathy.
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on 18 September 2007
Having enjoyed the first Pyke mystery, I found this one to be even better.

The plot is complex, as one reviewer has pointed out, but complexity is not a bad thing! Rather, it keeps you guessing to the end, much like Pyke's character, which is superbly developed.

Dark, compelling and unputdownable.
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VINE VOICEon 15 December 2007
He's now a rich married banker with a five year old son and his station is life couldn't be more different than the first novel. Think that'll mean less action, less intrigue, less violence and less moral ambiguity? Think again. The plot is compliciated, but not with unnecessary detail, the pace is fast and furious and you'll find yourself so deeply enmeshed in the novel you'll be hard pressed not to try and finish it in one sitting. I could smell and feel Pyke's world so clearly I could almost visualise it as I tore through this book. Robert B Parker & Raymond Chandler's Poodle Springs and James Lee Burke's Heaven's Prisoners surely inspired the new Pyke novel and I wouldn't mind betting that Pyke will end up as beloved a creation as Marlowe or Robicheaux. Where the series will go next after the explosive ending is anyone's guess and I for one cannot wait to find out.
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on 7 February 2010
Andrew Pepper's series of Pyke thrillers maintains a high standard. Great read. Good thriller. Great period detail. I've read the first three and am looking forward to reading the fourth one.
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on 4 October 2009
I am enjoying this one better than the first, though both Pyke books are hugely atmospheric. It doesn't do to try and imagine some of the scenarios too clearly, certain deeds made me retch!!
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