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Publisher's Summary

England, 1819. Two enigmatic Americans arrive in London and soon after, a bank collapses. A man is found dead on a building site; another goes missing in the teeming stews of Seven Dials. A deathbed vigil ends in an act of theft and a beautiful heiress flirts with her inferiors. A strange destiny links each of these events to the American boy Edgar Allen Poe, brought to England by his foster father and sent to the leafy village of Stoke Newington to be educated. Soon the intrigue enmeshes a poor schoolmaster, Thomas Shield, who struggles to understand what is happening before it destroys him and those he loves.
©2003 Andrew Taylor; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Jennings reads with such enormous variety that we are consumed by his characterizations....The listener becomes completely absorbed with the persona of the novel." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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  • Overall
  • Jayne
  • st charles, IL, USA
  • 09-06-08

Engrossing,historical mystery

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The writing is incredibly vivid and totally enthralling. It is a mystery, with many threads. It is not fast paced, but clues and details are gradually revealed until finally it all comes together at the end.
Much of the pleasure of the listen comes from the historical backdrop for the story. I love the details of life in the early 19th century. The author draws a fabulous picture of society, the social conventions, the dress and acceptable etiquette observed by the affluent through to the extreme poverty, filth and violence endured by the poor. Life in a boys school and the acceptability of thrashing and the apparent inevitability of bullying are also fascinating to hear about.
The narrator is quite wonderful too. He does a great job with portraying the various English, American and Irish accents of the characters and he really added to my enjoyment of the book.
I have to admit that the involvement of the schoolmaster throughout the story is at at times a little contrived but this did not detract from my enjoyment. The child Edgar Allen Poe does appear throughout the story and although he is integral to the tale, any child would have served to play the part just as well. So don't read this just because you are a fan of Poe, that may result in disappointment.
All in all a rich and vivid picture of early 19th century London, with a cleverly woven mystery to keep you guessing.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Repeat of

Not word for word at first but the same plot and people. And finally the same words. So if you have bought "An Unpardonable Crime" dont get this.

12 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • The Fool
  • 04-23-06

An absolute must

An exceptional book and recording. The reader is the best I have heard - and I'm a keen Audible fan! - and the plot very well constructed. What's the audio equivilent of 'un-put-downable'? This would be a great gift to someone not too sure if they wanted to go the audible route. It displays, so well, what a blast a well read audio book can be. So, I guess you can see I liked it!!

21 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • blueskythinker
  • 08-07-08

Excellent!!

This is a thoroughly enjoyable listen. The narrator does a great job and keeps the listener engrossed.
The plot weaves its way with many twists and turns. Although Edgar Allen Poe is a relatively minor character in the story, I have been inspired to find out more about his life as a result of listening to this.
This is a highly recommended book. It successfully combines a gripping crime story with a fascinating historical perspective.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • CHRISTINA
  • 05-15-11

modern wilkie collins

This is a thoroughly enjoyable book,very well narrated,which immediately reminded me of Wilkie Collins.There are bank collapses,women constrained by the expectations of a rigid society,harsh schools,murder,speculative house building and much more. We even get to meet the young Edgar Alan Poe.Unlike with Wilkie Collins,the characters in this book are allowed 'normal' feelings and fantasies and the book has clearly got a modern author,but the breadth and colour of the plot owes a lot to the past but it is no pastiche.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Iain
  • 02-11-11

Wilkie Collins is not dead...

... but back here in the modern form of Andrew Taylor. It was a compelling mystery that I'd recommend to any fans for Conan-Doyole or Collins - not to mention Poe of course!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Alison
  • 08-10-12

Such a compelling book

This is a perfect mix of 'Dickensian' narrative and rattling yarn. The story is woven through with real details and yet of course, it's highly florid fiction! Perfection is reached by combining this clever and complicated story with the narration, which is really excellent. I was very sorry to reach the end.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • JANET
  • 10-09-11

Good sense of Victorian England

Good sense of the period. I liked the narrator and cared about his fate. It lacked tension at times and, to be frank, rather than finding the ending satisfying, I was glad when I got through it. It felt rather long.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Sydney
  • 11-15-09

Good book, great reading

This is a decent Victorian thriller/mystery with an excellent sense of period and a nice twist, but what sets it apart is the really exceptional narrator. Taylor uses a spectacular range of voices and accents to milk the text for all its worth. Terrific listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Brian
  • 09-06-09

A Tour de force

what a wonderful experience this book is.
The author combines an intriguing mystery with a sure footed attention to period detail that is simply exquisite.
Although the setting is the early 19th century the subject matter
(a banking scandal)is coincidentally remarkably contemporary.
The characters are fully fleshed out and entirely believable.
The writing style is reminiscent of Dickens - and I can think of no higher compliment for a book of this type.
Alex Jennings, the reader, with his superb characterisation
and delivery completes what is a a hugely pleasurable experience.


1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Anonymous User
  • 10-22-17

Such a disappointment

I love Wilkie Collins so was excited by the prospect of this book. Unfortunately it was a very poor imitation and really dragged through the bulk of the story. At the end I was left wondering why I had persevered with it. I think the author tried to be too clever at the cost of an exciting plot. Many hours I will never get back- the only positive was the narrator who was excellent.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-23-17

The American boy

This book has a great story-line and was beautifully read by Alex Jennings I have recommended it to friends