Morrell has done an able job of blending history with fact to create a page-turning study of 1854 London. The work focuses on real-life English author..Show More » Thomas De Quincey (Confessions of an English Opium-Eater), whose essay "On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts" focused on the infamous Ratcliffe Highway murders of 1811. In Murder as a Fine Art, a copycat murderer who is both recreating and upstaging the Ratcliffe Highway murders lures De Quincey and his strong-willed, freethinking daughter Emily to London just in time to frame De Quincey for the tragedies. The resulting novel is both a gothic thriller and a thought-provoking and affecting contemplation of memory, addiction, and guilt.
I especially applaud Morrell for his Afterword essay, which explains not only how he researched and incorporated true history into his mystery, but also how he altered his writing style to mimic 19th-century sensationalist literature and incorporate De Quincey's own words. His generous list of works consulted is wonderful and most appreciated.
I give this four rather than five stars because the prose sometimes feels clunky and the pacing irregular. Emily, in particular, not only feels like a one-note, too-good-to-be-true stereotype (a "Mary Sue," if you will), but she also snags the rhythm at times by launching into righteously indignant monologues on women's fashion or prison reform at improbable times in the midst of action. Tidbits of description also appear extraneous on occasion. I mostly blame Lyndsay Faye for my reaction to this, as reading her recent novels has spoiled me and led me to expect other authors of historical fiction to fold their extensive research seamlessly into narratives without pausing for jarring "infodumps."
None of these criticisms detract, however, from the fact I quite enjoyed and definitely recommend this novel. With Matthew Wolf's excellent narration, it's well worth a listen.
I have to be honest and say that had I known that author David Morrell was the author of "Rambo" I probably would have never picked up the fir..Show More »st book in this series; Murder As a Fine Art Murder as a Fine Art, but that would have been a huge mistake.
When I saw the second book Inspector of the Dead as a perused Audible I immediately purchased it last weekend. I started it then, but got side tracked and didn't get back to it until yesterday. Well it was a good thing it was Friday night because I couldn't turn it off until I finished it this morning in the wee hours. WOW! What a ride. First and foremost I adore his characters, and the plot line, it will leave readers in absolute awe. The villain in this book is so diabolical,so tenacious he scared the hell out of me! But as his back story is revealed you almost, almost root for him. As I've only read two of Mr. Morrell's books I can't say if all his books delve so deeply in the psychological aspect of why men do, or can justify their evil. But he does it so well that I feel like I've learned something. Beyond that, he's a master at transporting you back in time. You feel you're in Victorian England in the dead of winter, you feel what it must be like to be always living on the edge when one misfortune could destroy you and your family, this is why I've always loved historical fiction.
I highly recommend Inspector of the Dead. I would be remiss if I didn't also praise Matthew Wolf's narration, he is wonderful. His characterizations, and accents are flawless.
Yes, as I very much enjoyed the first two books in this series. But for me, this one lacked the gripping suspense that kept me up all night listening ..Show More »to the previous works--especially the first book in the series, which so cleverly incorporates De Quincey's actual essay. The second was also very well done. By the time I got to the end of this one, however, I just didn't care. Emily went from being a spunky, unconventional yet believable Victorian heroine to a character that I just didn't buy. And I'm not sure why the author has to tell us, over and over and over again, how short De Quincey is. The love triangle aspect has long lost its initial charm. The plot is confusing and contrived, and the ending gives you the impression that the author just wanted to be finished with the book--which was, frankly, the way I felt by the last ten chapters or so. I was bored and wanted nothing more than for it to be over.