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The Unbelievers Hardcover – September 14, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312621698
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312621698
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,843,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Inspector Allerdyce and Sergeant McGillivray must investigate the death of the duke of Dornoch, the richest man in Scotland. There is no shortage of suspects since the duke was despised by many: miners from his colliery who’d had their wages cut, discarded lovers, displaced farmers, his wife, and his brothers. While tracking clues, Allerdyce and McGillivray also must contend with a corrupt commander. The investigation takes them to the heights and depths of Victorian Scottish society, challenging everything that Allerdyce believes. Sim, a Scottish academic apparently unrelated to the actor known for his film portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge, beautifully re-creates the Victorian age with its rigid class distinctions. --Barbara Bibel

Review

"Victorian yet gritty, a debut that will intrigue fans of police procedurals and historical fiction alike." --Kirkus

“Lovers of well-written historicals will welcome Sim's first novel featuring Insp. Archibald Allerdyce and Sgt. Hector McGillivray, set in Scotland in 1865.… Sim does a fine job in bringing the mean streets of Victorian Edinburgh to life…. The absence of a pat resolution makes for a highly satisfying ending.” –Publishers Weekly

"Powerful and thought-provoking, this will appeal to readers who enjoy Ann Perry, Charles Finch, and other authors of Victorian mysteries." --Library Journal 

"This is a fabulous Victorian era police procedural that brings to life 1865 Edinburgh as well as the workings of the British bureaucratic aristocratic leadership of that period. The inspector and the sergeant are delightful leads... Alastair Sim provides a strong historical whodunit." --Genre Go Round Reviews

"Lovers of Victorian Gothic mysteries will have loads of fun with this one, quite different in tone from the norm, while lovers of literary fiction will admire the author’s ability to describe and bring the period to life, as he simultaneously conveys important sociological and religious issues.... The author’s brilliant imagery makes the setting and atmosphere come alive, while the complexities of the plot reveal the author’s comprehensive vision of society." --MaryWhippleReviews.com
 
"Believe me when I tell you that The Unbelievers is one of the best historical mysteries I've read this year. It has an ending that is quite disturbing. I won't be forgetting this one for a long time. The killer was truly deplorable. I hope to see Inspector Allerdyce - if he fully recovers from his ordeals - and Sergeant McGillivray in a sequel." --GumshoeReview.com
 
"A brooding, Victorian murder mystery set in the Scottish Highlands and featuring Inspector Allerdyce and Sergeant McGillivray... In the tradition of Charles Finch and The Somnambulist, Alastair Sim has crafted a memorable, atmospheric novel that covers new ground in the world of Victorian mysteries." --NightOwlSuspense.com
 

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Lovers of Victorian Gothic mysteries will have loads of fun with this one, quite different in tone from the norm, and lovers of literary fiction will admire the author's ability to describe and bring the period to life, while also dealing with important sociological and religious issues. Written by Alastair Sim, great-nephew of the famed actor of the same name, the novel takes the Victorian police procedural in new directions. Inspector Archibald Allerdyce, an emotionally damaged man who no longer believes in God, and Sergeant Hector McGillivray, even more damaged from his army experiences during the colonial rebellion in India, have been ordered by the highest levels of government to solve the disappearance of William Bothwell-Scott, the Duke of Dornoch, wealthiest man in Scotland.

When he is discovered murdered, there is no dearth of suspects. Allerdyce's investigation takes him into the lower depths of the city, described in terms that "out-Dickens" Dickens--houses of prostitution; bars where the Duke, known to them as Willie Burns, can indulge his desires for young men; gambling dens and dog pits where ratters vie to kill fifty brown rats in five minutes--places so dangerous that Allerdyce needs two men to watch his back. With the police powers-that-be, tied to the government, insisting on a quick solution to the crime, true justice is seen as unimportant--just the appearance of justice, the quicker the better. Eventually, in true Gothic tradition, several other murders occur, coincidences resolve a number of plot issues, and complicated love stories unfold.

As one might expect from the title, the socio-religious changes in Victorian society can be seen in the conflicts faced by some of the main characters.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Scott Manley on July 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're reading this book for it's detail and description on the era, you won't be disappointed. The author does a great job of bringing to life the state of society, classes, medical knowledge, and family life for that era.

However, if you're reading this because you love mysteries I would not recommend this book. While the people murdered are intriguing, the plot is not. The path that leads to the various suspects is weak and the protagonist, "Inspector Allerdyce" is even weaker. I actually hoped that someone would kill him along the way. I did not find him to be a detective or hero I could get behind. The end is wrapped up in a neat little bow by a letter from the murderer at the end of a book which I veiw as a cheat/short cut for a good mystery.

In my opinion, this was a bad mystery with a wimpy hero in a great era piece.
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Format: Hardcover
In 1865, the four Bothwell-Scott brothers comprise the wealthiest, most notorious family in Edinburg, Scotland. Each brother is cruel and corrupt in his respective occupation, which involves either land holdings, the military, the law, or religion. The oldest brother, the lecherous William Bothwell-Scott, the 7th Duke of Dornoch, is missing. Inspector Archibald Allerdyce and his faithful sidekick, the hulking Sergeant Hector McGillivray, are assigned to locate him.

After searching numerous seedy establishments, the officers discover that William has been shot and thrown into a well. Soon, the other brothers are stalked and murdered by an unknown assassin. Allerdyce's friends fall under suspicion and one of them is imprisoned. In order to prevent more bloodshed, Allerdyce, who was once an unbeliever in supernatural forces, must put his faith in God to aid him in finding the person seeking revenge against the Bothwell-Scott family.

Historical mystery fans are going to love Alastair Sim's "The Unbelievers." Moving at a fast clip, this novel has a creepy, atmospheric setting, gruesome killings, treacherous villains, cryptic messages, and plenty of heart-pounding shocks. This novel provides a harsh, realistic look at Victorian life. Some scenes are extremely unnerving. The judicial system is rather quick to judge and execute by hanging. For example, Allerdyce is forever haunted by the public hanging of a ten-year-old boy who killed his abusive father.

In this superbly crafted mystery, Alastair Sim takes the reader from the grandeur of Dalcorn House to the depraved world of brothels, betting arenas where dogs kill rats, and gay bars such as the Sailor's Arms.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Story Hollows on October 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed the book tremendously! It was a wonderfully crafted who-done-it and at the same time rendered such an outstanding historical perspective of the era that it serves as a 'period piece'.

As Sim artfully layers the background information, he leads you to amazing visual images. He mentions Rossetti angels in one passage which later flows into a particular room description in which I could almost envision Wm. Morris wallpaper. I actually saw the Holman Hunt painting in my mind before he mentioned The Awakening.

Though the reader knows early on 'who done it', the motivation REVEAL was completely diverting and for me, quite unexpected. Jarvis served as a wonderful foil and excellent red herring and drew me off course in attempting to guess at 'the grand design'. Foresaking the classical motives of greed and passion and entirely consistent with the historical perspective of the book, the author further advances your knowledge of the times when he unveils the intent and objective of the murderer in the final passage.

One little thing I did stumble across ... I'm sure it was editorial error [or I REALLY missed something]... in the last passage about Allerdyce, there is mention of his search to discover "who'd shot Arthur". Shouldn't that have been "who'd shot George"?
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