1895. Victorian England trembles on the verge of hysteria in Vaughn Entwistle’s The Dead Assassin. Terrorist bombs are detonating around the Capitol and every foreigner is suspected of being an Anarchist lurking beneath a cape.
Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle is summoned to the scene of a gruesome crime that has baffled and outraged Scotland Yard’s best. A senior member of Her Majesty’s government has been brutally murdered, and the body of his attacker lies close by–riddled with bullets. More perplexing, one of the attending detectives recognizes the dead assassin as Charlie Higginbotham, a local Cockney pickpocket and petty thief. Higginbotham is not just an improbable suspect, but an impossible suspect, for the young detective watched him take the drop two weeks previously, hanged at Newgate Prison.
Conan Doyle calls in his friend Oscar Wilde for assistance and soon the two authors find themselves swept up in an investigation so bizarre it defies conventional wisdom and puts the lives of their loved ones, the Nation, and even the Monarch herself in dire peril. The murders continue, committed by a shadowy cadre of seemingly unstoppable assassins. As the sinister plot unravels, an implausible theory becomes the only possible solution: someone is reanimating the corpses of executed criminals and sending them shambling through the London fog… and programmed for murder.
I loved the first book in this series, “The Revenant of Thraxton Hall,” and have been waiting for a new book to come out, so I was really excited when I got the chance to read this one.
After being warned that this book was a bit darker than the last, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I fell in love with it from the first page. This novel has everything you could want in a paranormal mystery. The descriptions of London were brilliant and the story took many unexpected turns. What impressed me the most though, was the use of necromancy via means of steampunk inner workings. This book titillated my imagination and thrilled me with the Frankensteinesque qualities of the monster. Great imagination, this author.
The story itself is much more involved this time than in the previous book, but I was glad to see that the author retained his sense of irony and humour, and that Oscar Wilde was still a flamboyant, larger than life character who added a lot of comedic relief and colour to this story.
The re-imagining of the relationship between Doyle and his second wife was interesting, and although I’m sure some readers will have a few choice words for him–I liked where the author went with it. It was different, and obviously if you can believe Doyle and Wilde were out chasing monsters–then a few blips in the historical accuracy of their personal relationships should not be much of an issue. I choose to suspend belief, because it is so much fun to read this series.
The bad guys are vile, the good guys are truly heroic, even when they bumble into it on accident, and I am looking forward to another book.
This book series definitely has my recommendation.