The Dead Assassin
1895. Victorian England trembles on the verge of anarchy. Handbills plastered across London scream of revolution and insurrection. Terrorist bombs are detonating around the Capitol and every foreigner is suspected of being a bomb-throwing Anarchist lurking beneath a cape. Even Palace officials whisper warnings of a coup-de-tat.
Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle is summoned from a peaceful dinner in the palm-room of the Tivoli restaurant to the scene of a gruesome crime that has baffled and outraged Scotland Yard’s best. A senior member of Her Majesty’s government has been murdered—assassinated—in the most brutal and savage fashion. The body of his attacker lies several streets away—riddled with pistol bullets that inexplicably failed to stop him from carrying out his lethal mission. More perplexing, one of the attending detectives recognises the dead assassin as Charlie Higginbotham, a local Cockney pickpocket and petty thief. Higginbotham is not just an improbable suspect, but an impossible suspect, for the young detective collared Charlie for the murder of his wife and watched him take the drop two weeks previously, hanged at Newgate Prison.
Conan Doyle calls in his friend Oscar Wilde for assistance and soon the two authors find themselves swept up in an investigation so bizarre it defies conventional wisdom and puts the lives of their loved ones, the Nation, and even the Monarch herself in dire peril.
The murders continue, committed by a shadowy cadre of seemingly unstoppable assassins. As the sinister plot unravels, an implausible theory becomes the only possible solution: someone is reanimating the corpses of executed criminals and sending them shambling through the London fog … programmed for murder.
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—British Fantasy Society
—Historical Novel Society
—The Book Bag
—M. W. Gerard
—Curiosity of a Social Misfit
—British Fantasy Society (read the full review)
“In a novel that’s part steampunk, part Victorian, part mystery and part supernatural, Entwistle weaves these genres into a hybrid. And, like the steam engines and gears and shafts that permeate the story, somehow the disparate parts work together to produce an intriguing work.”
—Historical Novel Society (read the full review)
“This is a cracking read, with a strong mystery, excellent action, and well portrayed characters—both Conan Doyle and Wilde feel both real, and true to the characters that they are remembered as. Whilst the start is a little slow, the excitement and tension ramp up to electrifying effect, and by about halfway through, I was unable to put this book down. The elements of the supernatural add rather than detract from the story, and some parts are genuinely chilling and unsettling—but any uncomfort is quickly replaced by warm familiarity as Conan Doyle and Wilde arrive on the scene.”
—The Book Bag (read the full review)
“Watching these fantastic minds traipse around England, trying to save it from the brink, is simply fun. As an obsessive of Sherlock and Doyle, I am always pleased when a story can leave the canon alone while evoking the adventure the original stories. Those who enjoy Victorian steampunk fiction will also be most pleased.”
—M. W. Gerard (read the full review)
“The story itself is extremely well paced. Because of that, the characters move quickly during the mystery itself but Entwistle has written this is such a way that there are some very well written moments where the characters grow as the novel goes on.”
—Curiosity of a Social Misfit (read the full review)