"Svenson's head was already swimming with too many names and dates and places and figures" (p.591)
This lengthy book runs to 750 pages describing little more than two days in great detail. As Dr Svenson's swimming head implies, there is a large cast to keep track of. For an action adventure story this is a surprisingly slow read, the three heroes share the limelight and their separate storylines, occasionally intersecting, means there is some repetition. As well as this, most of the plot involves basically the same scene: one or more of our heroes creeping round the lairs of their enemies being captured then evading death with a daring ruse.
It might be more charitable to describe this work as evocative rather than slow. The author is clearly carefully building a detailed alternative world.(Obviously an alternate version of Victorian England, though, curiously, despite other countries, notably Germay, being identified, it is never explicitly stated that we are in England.)But, sometimes, Dahlquist does seem to be being deliberately circuitous; For example, surely two masked balls in the stately home of Harschmort is too much.
The story, fortunately, is strong enough to keep the reader's interest, and the three protagonists, although they do all share very similar characteristics, are engaging enough. Rather late in the day, the book becomes a murder mystery, with the earlier death of Arthur Trapping gaining an unexpected significance; but it is probably best seen as an unusually detailed adventure yarn.
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