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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Monday, March 23, 2015

Darkly fascinating!

Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell 

1855 London at the time of Victoria and the Crimean War. The government has just been brought down over military bungles in the Crimea. Everything is in flux. And a series of murders are about to be committed. Particularly fiendish, bizarrely clever and repugnant murders are being committed amongst the upper class and civic leaders. Each death leads back to someone or some persons who have attempted to assassinate Queen Victoria. It seems the Queen herself is targeted. Londoners are in a panic. As the raison d'ĂȘtre for the murders unfolds it makes sense in a tortured way. There is a balance between the horror and  the understanding of how the mind can break and evolve into a different truth. De Quincy, the opium-eater, Emily and the Scotland Yard detectives Sean and Ryan are on hand to witness the first death. They are attending a church service at St James Church .  They present a wonderful and scandalous juxtaposition against the normal attendees, shocking many there by their very difference, their appearance and Emily's ever-so practical bloomers.
Well written to the point of bizarre, the tension in the story holds right to the end. I just had to keep reading. The major characters are wonderfully crafted. Emily, Thomas, the detectives, the upright and brave Colonel Trask, Lord Palmerston, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. I did enjoy Emily's foray into arsenic and old lace, or rather arsenic and clothing dyes and food colourings.
Thomas De Quincy and his daughter Emily are an excitingly different pair of characters. Reading 'A Review by Katherine Neville' on Murder as a Fine Art on Amazon helped to flesh out Thomas DeQuincy. It is a valuable background read. I highly recommend it. As I hadn't read any previous novels in the series This review helped me to read Inspector of the Dead with a more informed background. I also enjoyed Morrell's end notes about his meticulous research, his walks through London places at all hours and weather to understand the times, the places and the shadows. Incredible!

A NetGalley ARC

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