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By Paul Hamer on 16-05-18
An intriguing story spoiled
The good point - the story is reasonable. The set up is slow and contrived but the main story runs along pleasantly - if implausibly. The premise and mystery surrounding the murderer did draw me in though. As an example of how implausible it can be, in the first chapters our hero survives being cut across the body in an attack by Afghan tribesmen. One would be lucky to survive that in modern times if you were airlifted out of the combat zone! There are other issues which I will not reveal due to giving away the plot - but while listening I was thinking "That would not happen in Victorian times". I expand on this below. As a period piece the author should not translate modern values into his characters!
The bad points - the writing is a mix of Victorian and modern which I find jaring and the author does not seem to be familiar with all aspects of the era. However, some parts have been well researched. For example the main male character is called William Harkness, but all of his peers and subordinates address him as William. I would expect surnames and formal titles to be used at this time other than by his immediate family. Adding to this his father is addressed and described as "Sir Harkness", when the convention would be to call him "Sir Simeon" or just "Harkness". The author revels in the use of Victorian terms such as "Billy Club" which are no longer in common use and makes great play of some of the action being set in Bluegate Fields slums.
Now for the narrator. The narration is dreadful. I nearly gave up several times. There is some attempt by him at regional accents but these seem to vanish during the performance and it is all delivered in the same rushed, breathy, mid-atlantic voice. There is no light and shade or tone, so there is little to tell characters apart. Occasionally there are blatant American pronunciations ("clerk" and "route" stand out for me). I note a different narrator is used on the next book in the series. I bought both at the same time. If the second is as bad I will ask for a refund.