Tag Archives: crime steampunk

Friday Faceoff – It shuffles through the dry, dusty darkness…

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This week the theme is mummification,, so I’ve chosen The Osiris Ritual – Book 2 of the Newbury and Hobbs seriesby George Mann – see my review here.

 

This gorgeous cover, produced by Snow Books in September 2009, is my favourite. I love the colours, the vivid colouring and beautiful, apt detail. The balance of information against that eye-catching design is perfect – in short this is one of my all-time favourite covers and is certainly the best of this selection.

 

This edition, produced in August 2010 by Tor Books is also a great effort. The giant sphinx and dark, muted colours certainly give a sense of the threat and catch the eye. I also like the title and author fonts, but it does lack the wonderful detail and flair of the previous cover.

 

Published in February 2012 by Piper, this is yet another strong offering, with plenty going on that is particularly applicable to the content. I like the steampunk cogs decorating the frame – enjoyable as well as informative – while the bridge disappearing off into the distant London landscape works well, given what the Osiris ritual is all about.

 

This cover, produced by Titan Books in November 2015, is another effective effort. The gold immediately sings out, drawing the eye and definitely setting it apart on the shelf – and again, I appreciate the icon that lets the reader know this is steampunk. It also sports the Newbury and Hobbes label – appropriate as this detective duo set in a steampunk version of Victorian London now has a solid fan following.

 

This edition was produced by Fahrenheitbooks in November 2014. This is the weakest effort, with a generic image that I don’t think works all that well with the font. Having said that, you would certainly notice it on a bookshelf. Which is your favourite?

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Weekly Wrap-Up – 1st May

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Weekly Wrapup

This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

It’s been a really busy week. My course at Northbrook is now settling down, so the flurry of admin will now ease up, thankfully. I was also rushing around, getting organised in order to zip off for a few days to stay with my mother. It’s always lovely going to visit her, but the big bonus this time around is that my sister is over on one of her rare visits from the south of France, where she lives. We had a fantastic few days catching up together and nipping off to the shops. I needed to arrive back today in order to give Himself a lift to work. But all the packing (which I loathe!) was absolutely worth it!

I’ve read three books this week:
The Snare – Book 1 of Star Wars Adventures in Wild Space by Cavan Scottthesnare
This is a children’s book that Oscar chose for Book Week, attracted by the fact it is set in the Star Wars world, but features two children whose parents have fallen foul of the Empire. We zipped through it last week-end when he came to stay, as he was desperate to discover what happened next. I shall be reviewing it in due course.

 

 

 

 

A Rruralaffairural Affair by Catherine Alliott
This contemporary romance was a complete change of pace for me – and not an entirely successful one, so I will not be reviewing it. I thoroughly enjoyed the opening pages and, indeed, the first two-thirds was engrossing and took off in all sorts of unexpected directions. Then I realised who was going to end up with whom (it is, after all, a romance) and read on, hoping I was mistaken and I wasn’t. Not the author’s fault that I found the ending a tad flat – more mine for imagining these days that I’d enjoy a straight romance.

 

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Queen of Hearts – Book 1 of the Queen of Hearts Saga by Colleen Oakes
This dystopian, YA take on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is an intriguing, tension-filled read, which is due to be published later this week. So, I’ll be posting my review in a handful of days.

 

 

 

sjhigbeefinalWhile away, I’ve been reading through my own ebook Running Out of Space on the Kindle, checking the formatting and looking out for any more mistakes. It’s been really helpful looking at the text in another format and I’ve found a handful of niggling issues which I’m pleased to be able to fix before publication.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My posts last week:
Weekly Wrap-Up – 24th April

* NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Bright Blaze of Magic – Book 3 of the Black Blade series by Jennifer Estep

Teaser Tuesday – Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

* NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* The Star-Touched Queen – by Roshani Chokshi

Review of The Executioner’s Heart – Book 4 of Newbury and Hobbes Investigations by George Mann

Friday Faceoff – Like One, That on a Lonesome Road featuring Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris

Obviously being away has impacted on my blogging output and reading – but I’m hoping to catch up this week. The weather this week has slid into manic mode, with most days swinging from bright sunshine through to sudden and very cold flurries of hail, sleet and actual snow. Happy May Day everyone and many thanks for reading my blogs – and an especial Spring thank you for those of you who have gone to the trouble of commenting. Have a great week everyone, and let’s hope that sometime soon, we get to have the sunshine without the snow showers…

Review of Bronze Gods – Book 1 of the Apparatus Infernum series by A.A. Aguirre

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I’ve loved Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series – see my review of Grimspace here. So I was excited to spot this steampunk crime offering, which is a joint effort between herself and her husband Andre. Would I enjoy it as much as her punchy space opera series?

bronzegodsJanus Mikani and Celeste Ritsuko work all hours in the Criminal Investigation Division, keeping the citizens of Dorstaad safe. He’s a charming rogue with Fae blood and an uncanny sixth sense; she’s all logic – and the first female inspector. Between them they collar more criminals than any other partnership in the CID. Then they’re assigned a potentially volatile case where one misstep could end their careers. The daughter of one of the great houses is found murdered – her body charred to cinders by an intricate and deadly device. A ruthless killer is stalking the gaslit streets, weaving blood and magic in a lethal ritual that could mean the end of everything they hold dear…

The worldbuilding is dealt with in the prologue – I really like the mash-up of classic steampunk with strong fantasy elements, like a diminished Fae race. And it means that some of the more unpleasant prejudices embedded in the classic Victorian steampunk genre are deftly sidestepped – though a tendency to keep women firmly in the home is still a major feature.

But in order for this novel to succeed, the partnership between Janus and Celeste must work – and it certainly does. I very much enjoyed the dual level at which they function, with Celeste dealing with suspects or persons of interest on a human level, with Janus extending his Fae sensibilities to assist in working out who is lying. It is nicely done. Their relationship is also shifting, as their former romantic attachments now are no longer attached. Yep. I know it all sounds something of a cliché – but the strong characterisation and enjoyable twists and turns are engrossing and very readable.

I turned to this offering when smitten with a heavy cold, and it certainly took my mind off my physical miseries. The murder mystery is well handled – I generally don’t bother to expend too much energy trying to figure out whodunit, but I did have my own theories as to who did what to whom, which all turned out to be completely wrong. Always the mark of a well-plotted mystery.

The final denouement was suitably exciting, producing a handful of major gamechangers and one major dangling plot thread that will be dealt with in the next book, Silver Mirrors, which I am definitely tracking down.
8/10

Review of The Immorality Engine – A Newbury & Hobbes Investigation by George Mann

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This book is the third full length novel in this steampunk adventure series set squarely in Victorian times.  Sir Maurice Newbury and his feisty sidekick Veronica Hobbes are called on to investigate a wave of crimes identical to committed by a murderer who the police have just found dead. Their enquiries lead them to the Bastion Society, and personal physician to Queen Victoria, Dr Lucius Fabian. Why is he so interested in Veronica’s sister, Amelia, and can Newbury and Veronica help free her from a terrible fate as a slave to the Empire?

immoralityengineI’ve enjoyed this series so far – but for my money, this is the book where all the ingredients mix together to provide a really gripping story with some horrific overtones. And the steampunk adventure stops being some slightly daft version of Sherlock Holmes and hits its stride.

Maurice Newbury is fighting his own demons – and the consequences of his experimentation bite deep into his personal life and create major strains in his partnership with Veronica Hobbes. Who has major problems of her own, given her concern and guilt about her sister’s fate… These internal conflicts add extra depth to these two characters, whose rather breezy attitude to date gave this series a certain amount of charm – but also allowed us to dismiss the shenanigans going on in Mann’s version of Victorian England as an amusing pastiche of the darker reality. It was also enjoyable to see that one of the characters who has regularly turned up as a regular bit player in the earlier books, Inspector Bainbridge, has been given a far larger slice of the action this time around – to the extent that we actually see the action through his viewpoint on several occasions.

There is a sombre feel to this novel that gives it extra edge, right from the beginning, with the bleak funeral scene that wouldn’t look out of place in a Dickens novel. Queen Victoria is something of a shock – the terrifying monster lurking in the shadows and kept alive by her steam-driven chair is a world away from the white haired matron we are used to seeing adorning various history books and stamps.

What hasn’t changed, is the speed at which the narrative whisks along. Mann is adept at interleaving the necessary scene setting with the various actions scenes that regularly punctuate this engrossing book. While the previous steampunk adventures have always been entertaining – which was why I made a point of picking up this book – this time the narrative braids all the various sub-plots into a really satisfying climax that contributed to the explosive denouement – literally. The fall-out from all the action is equally intriguing and the final hook has left me determined to track down the sequel, The Affinity Bridge. Where I enjoyed the previous books, this one is my favourite steampunk novel to date – and I’m very much hoping that the next book will deliver yet more steam-driven goings on with a same calibre.
10/10

Review of The Osiris Ritual – A Newbury & Hobbes Investigation by George Mann

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This enjoyable steampunk whodunit ticks all the boxes if you like your speculative fiction dosed with a liberal helping of Victoriana.  Death stalks London and the newspapers proclaim that a mummy’s curse has been unleashed. Sir Maurice Newbury, Gentleman Investigator for the Crown, is drawn into a web of occult intrigue as he attempts to solve the murders. And he soon finds himself on the trail of a rogue agent – a man who died to be reborn as a living weapon.

Newbury’s able assistant, Miss Veronica Hobbes, has her own mystery to unravel. Girls are going missing from a magician’s theatre osirusshow. But what appears to be a straightforward investigation puts Miss Hobbes in mortal danger.

Can Newbury save his assistant, solve the riddle of the mummy’s curse, capture the deadly man-machine – and stop the terrifying Osiris Ritual from reaching its infernal culmination?

This is the second book in this series, although I haven’t read the first offering. Does that matter? While the whodunit plotlines powering the book certainly are completely stand-alone and brought to a satisfactory conclusion, I did feel that Mann could have spared a bit more time and effort bonding his readership with his two protagonists. I certainly think the scene where Veronica Hobbes visits her sister should be earlier in the book than Chapter 8 – because that ongoing puzzle was the one that really caught my interest and lifted our plucky heroine from the obligatory female sidekick to a more three dimensional character.

Apart from that one grizzle, Mann clearly had a blast writing this book – his depiction of the world crackles with energy and he effectively captures the customs and speech rhythms of the era, without silting up the narrative pace. In fact, the story pitches forward at a fairly cracking rate with all sorts of mayhem ensuing. Mann deftly handles the various plotlines and writes the action scenes with plenty of clarity, while giving us a ringside seat of how all this is affecting his protagonists – a more technically challenging task than it looks.

If you are a fan of this sub-genre, with pea-soup fogs and steam-powered gismos doing it for you, then you’ll definitely enjoy pacing the cobbled streets along with Newton and Veronica. And if you occasionally venture into this corner of speculative fiction when you want a break from faster-than-light travel, or conflicted sword-waving misfits – you’ll find plenty here to provide page-turner appeal and whisk you back to an age where they don’t make ‘em like that, anymore.
8/10