- File Size: 1678 KB
- Print Length: 374 pages
- Publisher: Mulholland Books (May 7, 2013)
- Publication Date: May 7, 2013
- Sold by: Hachette Book Group
- Language: English
- ASIN: B008TUNSUW
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,832 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Print List Price:||$16.00|
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Murder as a Fine Art (Thomas and Emily De Quincey) Kindle Edition
|Length: 374 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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Top Customer Reviews
I read Thomas De Quincey's CONFESSIONS OF AN OPIUM EATER a few years ago when I was researching addiction memoirs. I used to be an historian and now write and teach creative writing. What captured me with Morrell's book was his deft handling of character, atmosphere, historical research, and the plot components of a ripping good mystery yarn. During the academic year I am often reading three books at once: a couple for classes I'm teaching that week, and always something just for me. I'm afraid Morrell secreted me away to my own version of an opium den. I was lost inside his book and didn't emerge until I'd finished. My only regret was that I devoured it too fast. I read it in a weekend and was left wanting to read another one.
I'm at a loss to explain why some folks seem to have struggled with the book. Perhaps being immersed in Victorian London is not for the weak of stomach. The city's streets were thick with horse offal, rotting corpses of horses, dogs, and the poor unfortunate souls who had no place else to go. If you think that England in the 1800s was all Austen manor house and garden tea parties, you will be disappointed. There's not much of this there, I'm afraid. But if you like getting down in the muck and slopping your way through it to find the answer to the questions that come to you with every new detail Morrell introduces; that is, if you want a smart, literate mystery that assumes that you are intelligent enough to follow a complex plot even while you're being distracted by the smells off the wharf, or blinded by the sulfurous London fog, this just might be what you're looking for.
Murder as a Fine Art takes place in 1854 London, England and begins with the brutal, savage deaths of five individuals inside a clothing shop. It isn't long before the public becomes aware that the slayings are a direct imitation of similar murders that took place during 1811, or are they? You see the tragedy of 1811 was written about by the infamous Thomas de Quincey in his essay, Murder Considered as a Fine Art. It's certainly possible that de Quincey's writings may have inspired a new killer to copycat the earlier crimes. Or, maybe de Quincey is the actual serial killer, who has come back to London to relieve his first creation forty-three years earlier.
Other than de Quincey and his daughter, Emily, the next important characters are Detective Ryan and Constable Becker who investigate the killings. The two policemen question the possible suspects, only to realize that someone could be using the writings of de Quincey to throw off suspicion.
Realizing a good thing when it's thrown into his lap, Detective Ryan decides to use de Quincey as a consultant to help him and Becker find the murderer before more killings can take place. Of course, they have to go against the explicit command of the most powerful man in England, who wants de Quincey arrested. The two police officers, however, have minds of their own and suspect they're on a time clock because the real murderer wants to destroy London as his final piece of art.
David Morrell's newest novel is definitely one of sheer brilliance. It incorporates his two years of diligent research to bring 1854 London alive in the reader's mind. His facts about the citizens and the city are never boring. In many ways, I would call it a history lesson that excited me with its nuggets of information that added realism to the story and its many characters.
The writing, of course, is professional in every sense of the word, flowing with an ease that reminded me of a spring meadow running quietly through the forest. After more than thirty-five years of writing, Mr. Morrell knows how to use words to tell a great story and to build a multitude of characters that shine with authenticity.
There was one chapter in particular that held me spellbound within its mesmerizing grip. It told the story of the killer and his journey to India where he learned to smuggle opium into Chine for the British East India Company and how to fight the Hindu Thugs, whose method of killing was strangulation with a knotted rope. The Thugs worshipped Kali, the Goddess of Destruction, and were so skilled in inflicting death upon the British and their allies that a person seldom heard them approach until the rope was wrapped around their neck. This chapter was utterly fascinating to me.
It should also be pointed out that many of the characters in the novel are based on actual people who lived: Thomas de Quincey and his daughter, Emily, John Williams, Lord Palmerston, and others. This certainly adds to the story's provocative theme and its vivid description of murder at its worse.
If you're interested is fantastic reading for the end of the summer, then buy yourself a copy of Murder as a Fine Art. It should also be noted that David Morrell is busy at work on a sequel to this great book.
This is a page turner set in a gorgeously gothic historical locale. Morrell ends the story with the hint of a sequel. I can only hope that wasn't just a tease. After all, Mr. Morrell has already done the hard part. The research is done; all that is left is the easy part--coming up with a devilishly enjoyable story.
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