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The Bedlam Detective: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Stephen Gallagher
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.99
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Madmen see monsters – and monsters hide in plain sight
From a basement office in London’s notorious Bethlehem Hospital, Sebastian Becker investigates wealthy eccentrics whose dubious mental health may render them unable to manage their own affairs. His interview with rich landowner Sir Owain Lancaster, whose sanity has been in question since a disastrous scientific adventure in the Amazon killed his family and colleagues, coincides with the disappearance of two young local girls. When the children are found slain, Lancaster claims that the same dark forces that devastated his family have followed him home. It is not the first time that children have come to harm in his rural countryside town, though few are willing to speak of incidents from the past. Becker must determine whether this mad nobleman is insane and a murderer, or if some even more sinister agency is at work.
   Struggling on his small salary, and with unexpected help from a son who needs special care, Becker and his wife make sacrifices so Becker can stay on the case after an innocent man is convicted of the crime. The answers he seeks may be found with the assistance of the local investigator and a young suffragette who fled Arnmouth, but couldn’t flee the horrors she encountered there. 
   From dank asylums to the lush and treacherous Amazon, through the makeshift studios of the early film industry and a traveling fair of freaks and illusions, Sebastian Becker’s search for answers brings him face to face with madmen and monsters, both imagined and real. Confronting immense danger in his hunt for the truth, he will explore murder, tragedy, and the tempestuous depths of his own mind. 

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews


A 2012 Best Mystery & Suspense Audiobook. Earphones Award Winner. ""Page's subtle handling of Stephen Gallagher's character-driven plot keeps us guessing..."" - AudioFile Magazine
Starred review. ""[Michael] Page's narration captures and enhances the dark and unsettling mood of the book. He employs a proper, clipped British accent for the bright, dedicated Becker, but softens his delivery when addressing the sleuth's personal problems... The voices Page lends the supporting characters are equally on target..."" - Publishers Weekly (audio review)
Starred Review. A Best Fiction Book of 2012. ""Gallagher loves character development but respects plotting enough to give it full measure. The result is that rare beast, a literary page turner."" - Kirkus Reviews
""...opens with a bang...each chapter ends with more suspense than the last...a true page-turner."" - The Post and Courier

About the Author

Stephen Gallagher is a novelist, screenwriter, and director. He is the author of fourteen novels, including Nightmare, with Angel; The Kingdom of Bones; and Red, Red Robin. He has won the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story Collection, an International Horror Guild Best Short Story award, and has been a Stoker and World Fantasy Award nominee.

Michael Page has been recording audiobooks since 1984, has recorded over two hundred titles, and has won several AudioFile Earphones Awards. As a professional actor, Michael has performed regularly since 1998 in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He is currently a professor of theater at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he lives with his wife and daughters. He has a particular interest in Shakespeare and Eastern European theater and travels frequently to Hungary and Romania.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1426 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307952789
  • Publisher: Crown (February 7, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00540PBFU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,553 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Questions of insanity and murder. February 9, 2012
A feeling of darkness hangs over this novel written by Stephen Gallagher. Insanity, murder, death, deception, all these things combine to make for a reading experience I will not soon forget. I really enjoy period novels and this one set in England in 1912 has just the atmosphere I look for. Almost every aspect of this novel is unusual and different. The main character is Sebastian Becker, a man whose career took an unfortunate turn because of an incident in America so now he and his family are in England living in what could be kindly referred to as reduced circumstances. Becker is now a special investigator for The Lord Chancellor's Visitor in Lunacy. A government department headed by Sir James Crichton-Browne, the Visitor in Lunacy is asked to send an investigator to interview persons reported to be mentally unstable and possibly mishandling the inheritance of the estates heirs, but more especially those revenues due the Crown. In this instance, Becker is in Arnmouth to speak with Sir Owain Lancaster of Arnside Hall. After being jeered from the stage during his presentation of the mysterious happenings during his trip down the Amazon River, Sir Owain is thought to be a madman who fights monsters in the night and who was responsible for the deaths of almost all who made the trip to South America with him. As soon as Becker arrives in the village he learns of the deaths of two young girls who Sir Owain describes as being "torn by beasts". It isn't long before Sebastian Becker sees a connection between the most recent murders and two other young girls who were left for dead years before after being cruelly treated.

I've never read a novel by this author before, but now I will certainly seek out other works by him.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Inwardly I live in fear." February 7, 2012
Stephen Gallagher's "The Bedlam Detective" opens in September, 1912. Sebastian Becker, a former Pinkerton detective, has returned to his birthplace with his wife, Elisabeth, their troubled but brilliant son, Robert, and Elisabeth's unmarried sister. The Beckers lives in South London and Sebastian's title is now "special investigator for the Lord Chancellor's Visitor in Lunacy." Simon goes to Arnmouth, where his mission is to assess the mental state of Sir Owain Lancaster. It is rumored that Sir Owain lost his mind when his scientific expedition to the Amazon basin ended tragically. To complicate matters further, shortly after Sebastian arrives in town, the bodies of two murdered girls are found. Sebastian becomes involved in an investigation whose roots extend into the distant past.

In "The Bedlam Detective," the author captures the oppressive atmosphere of an English village, where everyone knows everyone else's business, yet it is still possible for someone to conceal sordid secrets. Who is the villain preying on defenseless young women? There are a number of suspects, including Sir Owain himself. Adding to the speculation is Sir Owain's book, "The Empire of Beasts," in which he recounts his horrendous experiences in South America. He claims that "rampaging creatures" tore apart his wife, child, and the other members of his party. Most individuals contemptuously dismiss Lancaster's narrative as the ravings of a madman.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good characters, unsatisfying mystery June 13, 2012
By N. Boer
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The period setting and excellent characterization of this novel makes it worth reading, although I was not satisfied with the way in which the mystery is resolved.

Gallagher puts a lot of energy into setting up his protagonist and describing his home circumstances, as well as creating deep backgrounds for the other characters, all of whom are interesting and believable. His evocation of the period setting is also very realistic, but not jarring in the sense of having it constantly pointed out to the reader, or endlessly described. He takes the reality of his own setting for granted, and thus convinces the reader without belaboring the point.

The novel clips along at a good pace until about 2/3rds of the way through, when it seems to lose its own plot. The solution is not reached through careful detective work (in fact, Becker has no interesting or particularly convincing methodology), and there are no real clues for the reader to follow, and thus no way of 'predicting' the solution, which I found rather frustrating. The last part is certainly filled with tension and keeps you flipping the pages, but doesn't really provide the reader with a satisfying intellectual challenge, just a series of cliff-hanger chapters.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical fiction at its best February 15, 2012
By V. Cano
Historical fictions taking place in the Victorian era are one my favorite kinds of books, and this one certainly did not disappoint. It is rich with period detail and with the je ne sais quoi that makes past ages seem so appealing.
Sebastian Becker, the protagonist, is an interesting man. He carries the whole book on his shoulders effortlessly, guiding the reader on through the different chapters without ever becoming dull or predictable. He comes through as a real person, with his issues, but always maintaining the "hero" status. It was fascinating to follow him into the world of madness in the Victorian era, with all its grotesquerie and violence. From the first chapter, when he is called by a train conductor to have him investigate a pair of conjoined twins in formaldehyde, we know that this is one dark story. And we are not misled. Murders, rapes, poison darts and a sinister old man living in a dilapidated estate are enough to keep any lover of mysteries thoroughly entertained.
The writing is beautiful. There are some phrases which left me smiling, just at the way the words are shaped into meaning. I truly enjoyed submerging myself in this era, and in this book in particular, and I'll definitely pick up some more of this author's works. I highly recommend this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss this book
This is the best book I have read this year. I started it and could not put it down. It seems to be low key and then you realize you are almost done. WOW! Read more
Published 1 month ago by Patricia M. Surrey
5.0 out of 5 stars This author is a gem !
As a lover of historical mystery, I found this tale exciting and rich with the details of life in early 20th Century England. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Queenie 55
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it.
Tentalizing tale not only of the detective at work but ofthe workings of England at that time. Loved it.
Published 4 months ago by Maryse Malone
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bedlam Detective by Sherrbug
This book was one of the best books that I have read in quite a while. Great story, characters, settings and historical descriptions. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Sherry E. Staley Clark
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved the book
I loved the book. It had an interesting plot which moved along smoothly. Proper spelling, grammar and good word usage are
always appreciated. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Ann Moran
4.0 out of 5 stars This is the first of Gallagher's novels that I've read and I'm looking...
There are certainly tense moments and that tension builds throughout, but the author does not seem to force any action, which I appreciate. Read more
Published 7 months ago by SGF
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Super book.
Published 7 months ago by Nereids
4.0 out of 5 stars A great crime thriller that had so many wonderful sub-plots embedded...
A great crime thriller that had so many wonderful sub-plots embedded within it.

The main story focuses on a man named Sebastian Becker who has recently moved to London... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Keeley Frank
3.0 out of 5 stars A century-ago mystery with modern sensibilities
This Holmesque mystery remains true to its 1912 setting while touching on more modern themes of autism and women's equality. Read more
Published 8 months ago by subverb
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read! I love historical novels and this was ...
Excellent read! I love historical novels and this was one of the better ones I have read. I hope this author rights many more along this line.
Published 8 months ago by D. Edwards
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More About the Author

Beginning his TV career with the BBC's DOCTOR WHO, Stephen Gallagher went on to establish himself as a writer and director of high-end miniseries and primetime episodic television. In his native England he's adapted and created hour-long and feature-length thrillers and crime dramas. In the US he was lead writer on NBC's CRUSOE, creator of CBS Television's ELEVENTH HOUR, and Co-Executive Producer on ABC's THE FORGOTTEN. His fourteen novels include DOWN RIVER, RAIN, VALLEY OF LIGHTS, and NIGHTMARE, WITH ANGEL. He's the creator of Sebastian Becker, Special Investigator to the Lord Chancellor's Visitor in Lunacy, in a series of novels beginning with THE KINGDOM OF BONES and THE BEDLAM DETECTIVE.

Described by The Independent as "the finest British writer of bestselling popular fiction since le Carré ... Gallagher, like le Carré, is a novelist whose themes seem to reflect something of the essence of our times, and a novelist whose skill lies in embedding those themes in accessible plots." According to Arena magazine, "Gallagher has quietly become Britain's finest popular novelist, working a dark seam between horror and the psychological thriller.

The Daily Telegraph wrote, "Since Valley of Lights, he has been refining his own brand of psycho-thriller, with a discomforting knack of charting mental disintegration and a razor-sharp sense of place." Charles de Lint wrote in Mystery Scene magazine, "Gallagher is a master of abnormal psychology and he just gets better and better." Also in Mystery Scene David Mathew added, "never a writer to rest on his laurels, he has written good hard thrillers, some horror genre work (such as Valley of Lights), and a novel (Oktober) that might even qualify as a vague distortion of contemporary world fantasy... in places. You might go as far as to employ that overused phrase sui generis. He is, at any rate, one of the best writers of his generation."

Winner of British Fantasy and International Horror Guild awards.

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