Excellent historical fiction with a serial killer thrown into the middle of things. It was a good picture of life in London in 1795.
This atmospheric thriller treats astronomy and the French Revolution. Nicely-written with intriguing characters, the author evokes the mood of late eighteenth century England.
Jonathan Absey is a clerk in the London Home Office, charged with intercepting suspicious mails from foreigners. And in 1795, after the French Revolution, there are a lot of French foreigners in London. Many of them yearn for a restoration of the old monarchic order in their homeland, and together with the English, support the French Royalists who fight the revolutionary government in Paris. Consequently spies for both sides abound in London.
Auguste and Guy Montpellier have found a home outside of London, where Guy can engage in his search for the missing planet Selene, which, according to calculations at that time, should exist in the gap between Mars and Jupiter. His older sister Auguste supports his hobby and has created a circle of friends and fellow astronomers around them. Jonathan urges his brother Alexander to join this group to find out whether the Montpelliers are spies for the French government.
French spies are paid in French gold, and it is such gold that is stolen from prostitutes in London, after they are strangled to death. One of them was Jonathan's daughter, and he is certain that the gold will lead him not only to the spies, but also to his daughter's killer.
This is a very rich tale, thoroughly enjoyable to read. It also gives you a good understanding of what life was like in London at this time. An intelligent whodunit.
A super historical mystery. Great plot and character development. Redfern's first novel will be hard to beat.
A jack-the-ripper-flavored story, set in 18th-century London - but with
enough original elements to make it a more than worthwhile read.
Jonathan Absey is a government clerk whose career has not been going very
well since he went out on a limb to get his estranged brother a pardon for
homosexual acts - and it's gone from bad to worse as he becomes obsessed
with finding the killer of his daughter. Since the girl, also estranged,
was a prostitute at the time, he's officially discouraged from pursuing
the case... but when more and more women of his daughter's description
keep turning up dead, it's hard for him to concentrate on his offical
assignment: scouring the mails for signs of French espionage.
But both murders and spies seem to lead to a group of odd and enigmatic
astronomers, obsessed with finding a new planet that they call Selene.
Cover-ups, betrayals, madness, perversion and violence will ensue before
all is revealed in this dark and gripping mystery.
This book is great if you are interested in astronomy or the French Revolution as seen through the eyes of the English. It is full of suspense.
Our story takes place in 1796 London. England and France are a war. It is John Absy's job to catch the spies. But his mind is preoccupied with catching a serial killer of young red-haired girls. Prostitutes most of them, so not a police priority. But not the first. First to die was John's 15 year old daughter. So he can not rest until he avenges Ellie's death. While pursuing his efforts he stumbles on a society of astronomers searching for the elusive lost star the group has named Selene.
The repetitiveness of the murders deems the book laborious reading. Add in the confusion of the spies and lies of the war with all the astronomy calculations and I was more than a little muttled. I did find the indiscriminate coupling that prevails throughout the story quite distasteful. Truly this depravity detracts from the story. War, murder and sex under a glittering blanket of stars could not save this one for me. The only endearing quality was the rekindling of the relationship between John and his half brother Alexander. Oh and nice artwork on the cover.
British first novel is a historical thriller in the vein of Caleb Carr and Iain Pears, with maximum melodramatic coloring. All the characters, including the protagonist, Jonathan Absey, a civil servant whose daughter has been strangled by what seems to be a serial killer in late 18th-century London, are deeply flawed, and part of the problem with the book is that it is so unremittingly downbeat, with no glimmer of hope that anything will improve for its large cast. As the French Revolution is entering its second phase and its supporters are hoping to beat off an invading Royalist army backed by Britain, London has never seemed more dank and corrupt. Even the little group of French exiles and their hangers-on who are the heart of the story are mostly rotten to the core: the beautiful comtesse, Auguste; her half-mad and terminally ill brother, who may be the murderer; their hulking brute of a coachman; the enigmatic Dr. Raultier; and Auguste's handsome but apparently mute English lover. Then there is Jonathan's half-brother, amateur astronomer Alexander, a gay man at a time when it was desperately dangerous to be so, who is enlisted in the search for a then-unknown ninth planet by the glamorous French group. All this ties up with who is killing red-headed girls and robbing their corpses, and ends leaving only two principals alive, and them barely.
A little formulaic, but readable with a few interesting twists.
Very interesting. It was one of those you hate to lay down.
"A period brainteaser reminiscent of Caleb Carr's The Alienist." - People magazine
"Richly atmospheric . . . quite wonderful . . . For readers who like atmosphere, history, a few corpses, dissolute French aristocrats, and a moving reconciliation . . . It is Redfern's ability to bring each scene, each character, alive that makes this such toothsome reading." USA today
The plot of this book is well written but I still found it a bit disturbing, I did read it till the end to find how it would end. I will follow the author because of the well written plot but hope for a better story line.
IN eighteenth-century London,a killer walks the teeming streets.His vitims are always prostitues.Always young.With red hair.Before they die,they hear whispers thet speak of stars.Of a woman named selene.And then they feel the cord around their necks.Always...
great read about the search for a serial killer in the 1800's
In eigtheenth century LOndon, a killer walks the teeming streets. His victims are always prostitutes. A soft cord around their necks....
I loved it. Great historial mystery novel. London in 1795. Science, intrigue, war, revolution, obsessive passion, murder. What more could you possibly want? This is a really good book.
If you enjoyed The Alienist, this book will be right up your alley.
It is good for a historical novel. This type of novel is not my cup of tea.
Jack the ripper like mystery. Great historical context.
I enjoyed this very much - historical fiction / murder mystery with a great backstory about astronomy.