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Publisher's Summary

Elizabeth Barnabus lives a double life - as herself and as her brother, the private detective. She is trying to solve the mystery of a disappearing aristocrat and a hoard of arcane machines. In her way stand the rogues, freaks and self-proclaimed alchemists of a travelling circus. But when she comes up against an agent of the all-powerful Patent Office, her life and the course of history will begin to change. And not necessarily for the better.

Rod Duncan is a published crime writer. His first novel, Backlash, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger, and he has since written three other novels (all Simon & Schuster UK) and had his first screenplay produced. His background is in scientific research and computing, and he lives in Leicester.

©2014 Rod Duncan (P)2015 Audible, Ltd

Critic Reviews

"If I had a bowler hat, I'd take it off to the author of this beautifully crafted steampunk novel." (Chris D'Lacey, author of The Last Dragon Chronicles)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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Story

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  • Alison
  • Brinston, ONTARIO, Canada
  • 08-31-17

Good but not quite there

This book was, as the headline indicates, good but not quite great. It had a lot of things going for it, but for me it never quite hit its stride. Overall enjoy-ability of the book was certainly helped by the narrator, who did a good job of pacing and intonation.

Genre wise, it was sort of steam-punk in that they took a dirigible instead of a train but other than the 'device' which is the crux of the plot, it wasn't really that interested in the genre's usual technology. It was sort of alt-history, but the background wasn't really spelled out until the 'glossary' which was included after the end of the book (and so was of no use whatsoever). All the information that the 'glossary' gave about the history of the kingdom vs the republic, and about the foundation of the patent office would have been far more helpful at the beginning of the book.

I think the biggest reason why I am not giving the book more stars was because of Elizabeth the main character. It's not that she's not an interesting character, she is. I think it was the writing style of the novel which never really let us get into her head which left me feeling kind of lost with regard to her motivations. We get lots of Elizabeth's history and plenty of details with regards to how she gets into and escapes from various scrapes, but we don't get much of her overall motivations. We get the surface actions of her and nothing more. She's hired to look into a missing aristocrat but we, the reader, don't get any information about her speculations as to why the aristocrat might be missing. Does she think he ran away? Does she think he was kidnapped? Does she think he's deliberately hiding from his sister? What sort of device does he have? Did he steal it? By leaving us out of these thoughts, I felt like I was just kind of running alongside Elizabeth, not knowing why she was going where she was going. As a result, I didn't understand why she made the decisions which she made. When she tracks him to a notoriously difficult to locate travelling circus, I assumed the missing man had chosen it as a good place to hide, but Elizabeth sneaks around as though he's a prisoner there, and I just couldn't come to grips with her motivations.

Maybe because I felt so distanced from Elizabeth's actions, I found the ending to be sort of anti-climactic all around: the mystery, the technology, the twist. Meh.

While it is a stand alone novel, it does try to set up the books that follow (especially in the 'glossary' at the end which states that Elizabeth brings down the 'gas-lit empire'). Personally, I don't think I'll be picking up any more of the series.

Bottom line: if you're looking for something interesting enough but not deep, it'll keep you sufficiently satisfied.

  • Overall
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  • Story

Enjoyable.

A well written romp through a nicely constructed steampunk world. It certainly hasn't put me off getting the other books in the series.

Narration was ok, understandable at x2 playback speed.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Enjoyable & Fun, but no steampunk

Would you consider the audio edition of The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter to be better than the print version?

I very much enjoyed the audio version and recommend it for those interested in going on an adventure with a female spy (who dresses up as a male, thanks to her fathers foresight and care), has gypsy blood, is proficient at misdirection,and has a wild time of sorting fact from fiction (sometimes successful, and at others not).

Any additional comments?

The story is set in a fictional England during what is similar to the Victorian period. Elizabeth, the main character, is pursued by the International Patent Office (the bad guys) who's job is to ensure that only the "right" sort of technology is developed and introduced. She is also hiding and being pursued by the Duke of Northhampton who has under unscrupulous conditions obtained a contract for marriage. With all this going on the story is driven by a contract she has accepted to find a missing aristocrat.

The Steampunk reference is confusing because there is no quirky technology,only the Patent Office. So I didn't get that reference.

Elizabeth is resourceful, intelligent, kind and competent; struggling to make it in a world where women aren't suppose to work or "color outside the lines". She has fun, is endearing to many she meets, and is often in danger. What's not to like?

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Disbelief

I cannot believe this was written by a man. It is so slow moving, things only start to slightly move along by chapter 30. A definite undercurrent of misandry runs through the book. Not a book for the active male mind.

0 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-05-15

enticing world

The mastery of illusion. Well written and delightful. Immediately on finishing I went to search for other books by the same author, nothing. The book is set in an alternative Britain, one where the patent office tries to control and stop any new technology. Wonderful characterization.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Lesley
  • 09-21-15

An intriguing fantasy set in an alternative United Kingdom

The story was fast paced and the characters livid. I love fantasies set in an alternative England and this one did not disappoint. I am hoping there is a sequel as the listener is left wanting to discover how the main characters' lives continue to unfold.

The narration was good but failed to adequately distinguish individual characters.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Mike
  • 08-31-15

very enjoyable

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I plan to read more from this author based on this listen

Who was your favorite character and why?

the main character

What about Gemma Whelan’s performance did you like?

great

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

a different world a different age, women who have to work the system to survive

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Simon
  • 09-04-15

Bullet Catchers Daughter

If you could sum up The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter in three words, what would they be?

Unique exciting clvere

Who was your favorite character and why?

Elizabeth clever, gutzy and non confromist

What about Gemma Whelan’s performance did you like?

Flowed well good voice and very clear

Any additional comments?

A very good historical/dlight fanatsy mix not usually my type of book but really enjoyed it had to keep listening needed to know what would happen next

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Andy
  • 08-29-15

Great story interesting parallel world

If Ned Ludd had been triumphant and technological advances constrained by the all powerful and sinister International Patent Office where would we be?
Add a cross dressing private eye a circus and a duchess and you have it.
The story rocks along with some good tension and twists and is read well.
Thoroughly recommend.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Jane
  • 08-22-15

A generally good story.

Any additional comments?

This story has a bit of everything, past and present, secrets intrigue and suspense, atmosphere, twists and turns, well read! Not too heavy but absorbing and I wanted to know what happened. Have ordered the next in the series. Worth a listen.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr Daniel T Hutton
  • 08-05-15

A very easy listen

Very pleasantly surprised, was waiting for my next book token and this came on sale. As I was without a book to listen I thought it worth a try. Finished it in three days and now I'm back to waiting for a token.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • mandy
  • 09-19-15

Delicious - Political Steampunk Delight

What did you like most about The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter?

The themes of this book really ticked all the boxes for me - exploring class and gender politics with a heroine who passes as her own brother to work as an intelligence agent with a case that centres around a circus.... so many of my favourite things

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter?

The Crazy 8s game..... I loved the way our heroine took the misogynistic circus crew on andbeat them at their own game on so many levels at once.

Which character – as performed by Gemma Whelan – was your favourite?

Elizabeth Barnabus of course - who could fail to love that character!

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Elizabeth's concern for Julia and the unquestioning, unswerving support Julia offers in return.

Any additional comments?

I love steampunk, but sometimes I find steampunk novels become a little far fetched in their realisation of the alternate reality. For me, Duncan pitches this exactly right - fantastical but still completely believable.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • EGR
  • 08-14-15

Style over substance

The author has constructed a fascinating and original world with interesting characters. Unfortunately, the plot is not nearly as interesting as the setting.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • James Engwall
  • 10-19-15

Just doesn't kick off

Rather disappointing story really, you keep expecting something exciting to happen, but it just doesn't.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful