I hardly have the words... this novel was not what it appeared from the publisher's summary. There was a murder mystery set among the upper eschelons of Victorian London, but there was also the seemy underside not mentioned in it. Brothels abound, and the scenes set in them, and in facct all of the scenes involving sex, were grotesque, off-putting, and faintly disturbing. I must assume that this was the desired effect, because it was done so consistantly, but still... The rest of the story was all right, but in no way particularly engaging. The characters weren't deep, the plot was not especially clever, and over everything was the twisted, grotesque sex, even in the simplest things. The only good thing I can find to say is that the narrator is quite enjoyable.
This book was certainly no "Pillars" or "World's End" but it was a good read that I was always eager to resume on my daily commute. I did appreciate that, unlike many works of historical fiction, I was not confronted by characters were modern figures transported into the past. The characters in this book generally behaved as one would expect for the time period.
In addition, this book had one of the better "coup de grace" moments toward the end of the book. Usually I feel the villain gets off too easily (or too quickly). Not this time.
Overall a very good read that will not disappoint.
This book was thoroughly enjoyable. The characters are brought to life in a believable, historical context, read by a fine narrator.
I highly recommend this book.
Many authors write historical fiction set in and around the Victorian age that is entertaining and not particularly profound. Fun books in this category include James Clavell's "Noble House" and "Gai-Jin," and Michael Crichton's "The Great Train Robbery." Ken Follett has written two of my favorite historical entertainments, "Pillars of the Earth," and "World Without End." (Set in medieval, not Victorian, England.) But none of these books resorts to inventing a fictional South American country that is central to the plot nor does any stray as far from the actual events of the time as "A Dangerous Fortune." I don't think even Sidney Sheldon fabricated a country in his potboilers. One likes to think that the history in these books has at least a reasonable semblance to reality. For me, this was a fatal flaw.
If you're captivated by the machinations of wealthy families....well, this might be the book for you. I found the story dragged on and on with predictability, but then the last chapters felt rushed as if Follett felt the need to wrap things up quickly. All the regular suspects are there (the rich snob, the hooker with a heart of gold, the honourable son, the black sheep of the family, the evil foreigner) but they don't add up to anything unexpected and aren't written with much subtlety or imagination. Follett seems to me to write some excellent books and some very average ones, and this is solidly in the second category.
I'm an avid listener always searching for another good book and willing to share my thoughts with a pithy review.
Read most of his books, but somehow overlooked this one. You will enjoy the journey as his characters begin to take shape and command your attention. By the time I was half way through the book, I began to manage my time such that I could spend more with the book. When that happens, I'm more than willing to grant the highest ratings.
Ken Follett can craft plot twists and evolutions with the best of them, and he creates characters you care about to follow the plot. Appealing protagonists, evil villains, dire straits, appalling treachery, and satisfying revenge. I was drawn in, and looked forward every day to my commute to hear what happened next. I enjoyed Michael Page's narration, and have added him to my list of search parameters.
I have read a lot of Ken Follett's books and some are really good. Fall of Giants is probably on my top 10, but he has developed characters that he uses in every story. He has strong willed women and misunderstood geniuses. There are things larger than the two main characters and their unrequited love at play. There is manipulation but through it all, the good guys develop more and more character while the bad guys degenerate.
If you like Ken Follett this is what you should expect. If you've never read anything of his, start with his larger books. They were worth every minute I stayed up late, hurting myself trying to finish them.
An avid reader, demanding of the story, characters and narrator. Mysteries and historical fiction are my favorites.
Having just watched Follett's "The Pillars of the Earth" on TV, I have to admit that his stories are somewhat formulaic, but they are so well written that I love them anyway. The bad guys are all bad, and the good guys so good that - in another writer's hands - the book could be dull and predictable. But Follett manages to engage the reader from the first page to the last. Loved this book.
Avid Listener of Audible
This is a good book; however, there is a lot of plotting by the "evil doers." It begins to get a bit tiresome. All in all, it is entertaining and the characters are well written. I loved the accents the narrator gave some of the characters.