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Oliver Twist Investigates
G M Best

Robert Hale
31 December 2010/ ISBN 9780709091523
Historical Mystery /1846 London
Amazon US || UK

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde

Anybody familiar with Oliver Twist will know that it ends with the young protagonist welcomed into the bosom of his lost family. Several years on and Oliver is now twenty-one, summoned to the gloomy chambers of a solicitor a few days after his birthday. He is shown the final testament of Fagin which seems to suggest that Nancy was not in fact murdered by Bill Sikes. Oliver embarks upon a quest to discover the truth, not only about the murder of a woman he admired, but about his own true identity.

This is an intriguing idea for a novel, and having Dickens in it as well - seen not as a novelist but as Oliver’s biographer - is even more innovative. Anybody expecting the tone to be the same as the original novel will be satisfied in some ways, but this is a much darker-toned and more adult work. Fagin was not only a child exploiter but also a child molester, and there is plenty about the less palatable aspects of the Victorian underworld. Best is an author who is adept at descriptions, and telling the tale in Oliver’s own words makes it all seem that much more immediate and gripping. The lid is lifted on the true natures of many other characters in the novel, and we get to find out what happened to them after the book ended. I’ve read quite a few sequels of classic novels and they often fail to engage but this one tends to stay in the mind afterwards. Anybody who enjoys the works of Anne Perry should enjoy this, as it deals with many of the same themes and also leads the reader through a tantalizing maze of clues.

Reviewer's Note:Some adult themes


Reviewed 2011
© 2011