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The Bedlam Detective: A Novel Paperback – February 5, 2013
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—Historical Novel Society, Editors' Choice
“Masterful whodunit…Gallagher’s superior storytelling talents bode well for future adventures starring the well-rounded Becker.”
–Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Monsters, actual and metaphorical, are at the heart of this superbly crafted thriller....Gallagher loves character development but respects plotting enough to give it full measure. The result is that rare beast, a literary page-turner."
–Kirkus, starred review
“The story moves easily between present and past events, leading to a conclusion that is as perfectly logical as it is surprising…Intricately drawn characters, carefully shaded depictions of events and situations, and an excellent sense of pacing…This is a real page-turner, and fans will hope to see more of Sebastian Becker in the future. It may also attract readers who enjoy historical thrillers in the Caleb Carr tradition.”
“Gallagher's great character development and clever plotting has created a great result: A rare literary masterpiece for the lovers of historical crime fiction.”
“Gallagher’s latest is a great thriller/mystery with a unique character premise. I would love to see this developed into a series.”
–Becky Lejeune, BookBitch.com
–Charles DeLint, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
Praise for Steven Gallagher:
“Perhaps the finest contemporary British thriller writer.” –GQ
“Stephen Gallagher shows the occult mystery in its best light.” –New York Times Book Review
“Gallagher has quietly become Britain's finest popular novelist, working a dark seam between horror and the psychological thriller.” –Arena
“The finest British writer of bestselling popular fiction since le Carre... Gallagher, like le Carre, is a novelist whose themes seem to reflect something of the essence of our times, whose skill lies in embedding those themes in accessible plots.” –The Independent, London
"A master of pace and suspense, Gallagher has the dark, neon-splashed imagination of a true original." –Glasgow Evening Times
"Gallagher is a master of abnormal psychology and he just gets better and better." –Mystery Scene
“If thriller-reading were a sin, Stephen Gallagher would be responsible for my ultimate damnation.” –Dean R. Koontz
About the Author
From the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
I've never read a novel by this author before, but now I will certainly seek out other works by him.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Just okay...The story is fairly good with well defined characters and settings and that's part of the problem for me. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Trinity Cause
Well written, fast moving, engrossing. The lunacy of the villain even had legitimacy clinically speaking. A few more twists in the plot would be nice. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Daniel
I've been reading books for over 50 years, this is the first time in the 100s of books I've read, that I read in one day. I could not put it down. Read morePublished 11 months ago by mom4life
If you like historical fiction mysteries , this is a great one. In the genre of of Sherlock Holmes and more likeable a persona.Published 11 months ago by Bonny Wine
This story was hard to get through but I finally did. Monsters that live in the mind are really the twisted and evil men in this story.Published 12 months ago by Kindle Customer
Loved the period, the writing style, and the thrust of the story. But it didn't flow as well as it could have, and parts of the narrative felt a little out of place, and felt... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Jake Rock
Very good. I never knew there we authorities in England, who could decide someone was crazy, then commit them and run their estates.Published 13 months ago by alice wittwer