By Peter Lovesey
Allison & Busby - May 2002
ISBN 0749005521 PB
Historical Crime
1884 London, England

Reviewed by: Rachel A Hyde,
Buy a US || UK Copy

I always look forward to Allison & Busby re-releasing another of Peter Lovesey's timeless classics of historical crime fiction. There is so much to enjoy in these novels, which are just long enough: the meticulously researched background of Victorian London, the wry humor, and well-rounded characters and the fast-paced, scintillating plots that feature startling surprises.

This novel first appeared back in 1974. In it, Lovesey turns his attentions to the historical (though ever-topical) subject of Irish Home Rule and the Fenians. The hapless Cribb is sent on a course to learn all about the making of "infernal machines" and explosives following a series of bomb attacks in London, and is also cautioned to keep an eye on a certain constable suspected of being a closet sympathizer - none other than his own faithful sidekick Constable Thackeray. Then Cribb gets involved with the fortunes of an Irish-American hammer thrower and finds himself an reluctant member of the Dynamite Party alongside a beautiful woman and a disfigured genius.

This is, to my mind, one of Lovesey's best novels, a thrilling tale that, if it featured Orientals, could have come from the pen of Sax Rohmer. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. You couldn't cram much more into the pages and even if you were hoping for a whodunit, which this isn't, so much happens that it also compensates for the lack of surprises. I've read stories like this before - this isn't groundbreaking original fiction by any means - but if you want a fast novel with humor and spot-on historical research then you will enjoy this one. You could say that the whole thing goes with a bang.

© MyShelf.Com. All Rights Reserved