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Dan Leno And The Limehouse Golem Hardcover – Import, 1994

3.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: SINCLAIR-STEVENSON LTD; First Edition edition (1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1856195074
  • ISBN-13: 978-1856195072
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,233,947 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Dan Leno And The Limehouse Golem is quite simply a masterpiece. Every aspect of the novel is remarkable. It's a whodunit, though it suggests a couple of credible suspects right at the start. It even convicts its central character to death by hanging before we have even got to know her. Clearly things are not going to be obvious. The novel is also a study in character, especially that of its central actor, Lambeth Marsh Lizzie, later Mrs Elizabeth Cree. It's also an evocation of London in the late nineteenth century, complete with colours, smells, vistas and perspectives. It's a highly literary work, ever conscious of its place beside the genres it skirts. Overall, it's a wonderful example of how form can be used as inventively as plot to create a story.

The novel has a series of interlocking stands. In one our anti-heroine, Lizzie, is accused of the murder of John Cree, her husband. In another, John Cree's diary reveals certain secrets that not only he would have wanted to hide. In a third strand, we learn of Lambeth Marsh Lizzie's past, how she came to a life in the theatre and how she met her husband. A fourth strand follows the career of Dan Leno, a music hall player, worshipper of the silent clown Grimaldi and mentor of Lizzie's stage life. And in a fifth strand we see how, in a great city like London, our paths inevitably cross those of great thinkers, writers, artists and, of course, history itself. Peter Ackroyd thus has his characters cross the paths of a writer, George Gissing, and a thinker of note, one Karl Marx, as they tramp the streets of Limehouse after a day at the library.

As usual, sex has a lot to do with the relationships in the book. It is usually on top, but here it also comes underneath and sometimes on the side of events.
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Format: Paperback
Dan Leno was variety hall entertainer in the second half of the nineteenth century. The Limehouse Golem is a serial killer along the lines of Jack the Ripper. Around these two poles Ackroyd has spun a story of an abused girl who is taken under Leno's wing and after a successful career on the stage, marries and then murders her journalist admirer. The story is a meditation on the links between murder and entertaining the popular imagination, on revenge and pride.
The book takes a little while to get a grip on, consisting as it does of several different narratives, but halfway through it shifts down a gear and really takes off.
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Format: Paperback
Elizabeth Cree is hanged at the beginning of this book for the murder of her husband, but was she guilty?

We are then taken into the Victorian world of theatre and gross murder.

Ackroyd writes about London superbly and he has managed to combine this with a good crime novel, some wonderfully horrible writing here.
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Format: Paperback
Many in our group enjoyed the author's `Hawksmoor'. This novel was written nine years later and follows many of the same themes and fascinations, one might almost say obsessions.

This is a kaleidoscope of fragments which builds up the story by extracts from a (made up) diary, a trial transcript and the main character's early history. It begins at both ends and works towards the solution in the middle. There are surprises at the end of chapters, little hints all along so you wonder why a suspected a murderer reads Tennyson to his wife, but it is not until you get to the end that they sink in so it maybe worth reading the book a second time to appreciate its clever crafting. No linear narrative here then, just like Ackroyd's other London books.

These fragments come from all over the place and the author makes sense of them, just as we try to make sense out of the many events which make up out lives. One important fragment, woven into the story, is the main character, Lambeth Marsh Lizzie (Elizabeth Cree after her marriage) who is reminiscent of the title of W. Somerset Maugham's novel, Liza of Lambeth. Maybe Ackroyd based his character on her because there are parallels: both are young women who have gone astray; both are the only child of a religious, hypocritical mother who mistreats them; both oppose their mother's will; and both have lived all their childhood in poverty in Lambeth approximately in the same period. Both novels, deal with popular theatre influencing the lives and behaviour of the urban masses. Leno says, "We never do dirty - but double-entendres."

Typically post-modern, the novel muses on the self. Who am I?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My husband bought this for me, I have been looking for it for ages. It is an excellent and smartly written book. Ackroyd uses historical figures to intertwine with fictional and non fictional characters, adding them all together on a stage of murder and confusion. I am hoping that the movie version will live up to this book. It's one of a kind and it stays with the reader days after you close the book. I highly recommend this book!
Chessica
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