Written by: George Mann
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Titan Books (12 July 2013)
‘A serial killer is loose on the streets of London, murdering apparently random members of the gentry with violent abandon. The corpses are each found with their chest cavities cracked open and their hearts removed. Charles Bainbridge, Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard, suspects an occult significance to the crimes and brings Newbury and Veronica in to investigate.’
Following hot on the heels of the events in The Immorality Engine, George Mann brings us the fourth installment in his highly entertaining Newbury & Hobbes series of novels. The novel thrusts us right back into a steampunk London of machines, monsters and madmen and we once again find ourselves in the company of Sir Maurice Newbury, Miss Veronica Hobbes and the Chief of Scotland Yard Sir Charles Bainbridge.
In this installment the heroic trio are investigating a series of brutal murders with the perpetrator a fabled assassin known only as The Executioner, leaving a trail of blood-soaked crime scenes across the city. Beneath these events is a very interesting background of political intrigue with the ever-aging Queen Victoria clutching to the throne with her cybernetic life support machines.
What impressed me the most about this novel was Mann’s easy flowing writing style; he seems very comfortable in steampunk London, describing it fluently without expressing too much detail and losing the flow of the story. His writing style is also perfect for pacing the story; Mann has a flair for energetic scenes of action which are concentrated in the latter part of the novel. The beginning of the novel tends to concentrate on the characters, delving into their personalities and strengths, the reader gets the chance to see more of what drives them and what makes them who they are.
In this novel Mann breaks with his established format by having chapters given over to the villain of the story in which their past, actions and motivations are examined, when reading the novel this provides a welcome break from the action but shows us how Mann can comfortably present a different viewpoint without changing the narrative in a jarring manner. The chapters seem to flow effortlessly and help to provide an immersive experience – this is a book I just couldn’t bring myself to put down.
My one complaint about this novel is its ending; the events in the closing scene raise so many new and exciting questions and prospects that I can’t wait for the next book to answer. If you’re new to steampunk, I can wholeheartedly recommend this series as a place to start.
I just don’t know how I’m going to wait until July 2014 for the next instalment…
Executioners Heart is available in the UK on Friday July 12th.