Mystery Books for Sale

[ Home ]
[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]


by Andrew Pepper
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, July 2006
320 pages
ISBN: 029785237X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

1829 is a superb year in which to set such a rollicking adventure. There is great ferment in this period in religion and politics with the fight for Catholic emancipation accompanied by anti-Catholic riots and the battle to form the Metropolitan police force. London is a colourful place with many murky areas contrasting with great wealth, a harsh penal code and appalling prison conditions. We are in a vortex between the Napoleonic Wars and the Regency on the one hand and the respectability of Queen Victoria's reign on the other.

Pyke is the centre of this tale -- he is a Bow Street Runner who functions on both sides of the law in a society where self-interest is the best guide. In the course of an investigation Pyke finds a scene of horror in the notorious rookery of St. Giles -- a warren of interlinked alleys and yards making up one of the worst overcrowded slums of London.

Soon he finds himself meeting men of high political importance, including the Home Secretary, Sir Robert Peel, and experiencing a situation in which unseen enemies surround him. He can hold his own in street fighting and he can readily fight with words against those men of political power but despite his skills in in-fighting he is, at first, outclassed by the methods of his enemies.

He is a hard man to destroy, however, and he escapes from frightful tight corners again and again. Gradually he reveals the harsh experiences that have shaped him and which explain his brutal responses to events and his inability to trust anyone.

This is a swashbuckling thriller with climax after climax as, for example, Pyke spends time in the condemned cell in Newgate or visits the Protestant stronghold of Belfast. Pyke is not a man to like but certainly a character to respect. Humour is fairly scarce and when it occurs is definitely gallows humour. The story does expand outside London with scenes in the country and in Belfast but the city and its appalling realities are the bloodcurdling centre of events.

Reviewed by Jennifer S. Palmer, September 2006

[ Top ]



Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]
[ Home ]