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The Great Stink juxtaposes two darknesses, both embodied in the filthy tunnels: the lawless desperation of the very poor, and the despair of madness. One of the junior engineers most useful in mapping the existing sewer is William May, a studious, methodical veteran of the Crimean War who manages to conceal from everyone but his wife the horrors he brought out of battle with him. The tunnels don't frighten William; they provide isolation and silence for the bloody rites that keep the Mr. Hyde in him at bay. It seems only a matter of time before William's self-destruction turns outward. Long Arm Tom, his counterpart among the poor, is a "tosher." He enters the tunnels illegally, scraping the sludge for coins or other booty, and trapping hundreds of rats for fighting against dogs at local taverns (all the rage for sporting gentlemen since dog fights have been outlawed). Kindness is a liability in Tom's world, but two acts of pity--one toward a dog, and one, more grudgingly, toward William--provide the resistance that changes the course of this otherwise relentlessly dire story.
The very weak-stomached may need a cup of mint tea or a bowl of potpourri beside them as they wade through the sewer with Tom and William. Clark has spared readers none of the stink, nor the sharp pleasures of suspense. --Regina Marler
It is very well researched, very descriptive prose and the thoughts of the war vet William are really excellently written but so, so dry. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Teresa Pietersen
First a disclaimer: I did not finish "The Great Stink." I couldn't. What's more, I cannot comprehend the great reviews this book has gotten from both professionals and... Read morePublished 8 months ago by M2
Just got really tired of reading pages and pages of the crazy thoughts and actions of a war ravaged lunatic. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Harriet the Girl Shopper
Great to get away from the romantic but totally false stories of "The Good Old Days". Every day I think how lucky I am to have been born where and when I was!Published 18 months ago by Earl Wajdyk
This is a period of London history in which gritty and not pretty happened. The author used facts and combined them with a fun mystery. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Michael J Kaplan
A sad tale which treats the disorder of having to cut oneself. Set in London's sewers it makes for an unusual and fascinating storyPublished 23 months ago by Cramer Robert Angela
The Great Stink is a graphic yet satisfying read. Ms Clark has done her research in Victorian England...London especially. Her novel is very Dickensonian, but also very original. Read morePublished on November 13, 2012 by digital reader
Disturbing, atmospheric depiction of Victorian London: Dickensian in its social commentary and depth of characters. Read morePublished on September 21, 2012 by Ann M. Peters