Synopses & Reviews
Mark Hodder's second Burton & Swinburne steampunk adventure, following the acclaimed The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack, is filled with eccentric steam-driven technology, grotesque characters, and a deepening mystery. When a clockwork-powered man of brass is found abandoned in Trafalgar Square, Burton and his assistant, the wayward poet Algernon Swinburne, find themselves on the trail of the stolen Garnier Collection--black diamonds rumored to be fragments of the Lemurian Eye of Naga, a meteorite that fell to Earth in prehistoric times. From a haunted mansion to the Bedlam madhouse, from South America to Australia, from séances to a secret labyrinth, Burton struggles with shadowy opponents and his own inner demons. Can the king's agent expose a plot that threatens to rip the British Empire apart, leading to an international conflict the like of which the world has never seen? And what part does the clockwork man have to play?
"The alternate Victorian London of Hodder's latest fantasy is stuffed with eccentricities: each fascinating in itself, but adding up eventually to a slightly stultifying overabundance (not to mention Hodder's tendency toward painful puns, like the 'Folk's Wagon' made out of an actual Beetle). Mercifully these fade into the background as the plot kicks into high gear with explorer Richard Burton and his sidekick, masochistic poet Swinburne, sleuth out the truth behind a bewildering conspiracy of rakes, technologists, psychics, black diamonds, time travelers, and a butcher claiming to be an aristocrat. The investigation also leads the protagonists to different countries. Hodder handles these cross-cultural encounters surprisingly well. Furthermore, the overarching theme of being stuck down a wrong turn in history adds a touch of atmosphere both ominous and bittersweet. Ultimately though, the many characters, places, plot twists and turns fail to work together to keep the reader's attention. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From a haunted mansion to Bedlam madhouse, South America to Australia, sances to a labyrinth, Burton struggles with opponents and inner demons, as he meets the philosopher Herbert Spencer, Florence Nightingale, and the father of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
About the Author
Mark Hodder is the author of The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack--winner of the Philip K. Dick Award 2010--and its sequel, The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man. He's the creator and caretaker of the Blakiana website (http://www.sextonblake.co.uk), which he designed to celebrate, record, and revive Sexton Blake, the most written-about fictional detective in English publishing history. A former BBC writer, editor, journalist, and Web producer, Mark has worked in all the new and traditional medias and was based in London for most of his working life until 2008, when he relocated to Valencia in Spain to de-stress and write novels. He has a degree in cultural studies and loves British history (1850 to 1950, in particular), good food, cutting-edge gadgets, cult TV (ITC forever!), Tom Waits, and a vast assortment of oddities.