Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell
Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his memoir Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, is the major suspect in a series of ferocious mass murders identical to ones that terrorized London forty-three years earlier.
The blueprint for the killings seems to be De Quincey's essay "On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts." Desperate to clear his name but crippled by opium addiction, De Quincey is aided by his devoted daughter Emily and a pair of determined Scotland Yard detectives.
In Murder as a Fine Art, David Morrell plucks De Quincey, Victorian London, and the Ratcliffe Highway murders from history. Fogbound streets become a battleground between a literary star and a brilliant murderer, whose lives are linked by secrets long buried but never forgotten.
I read Bev's review over @ My Reader's Block. She gave it a 5 star rating and the review made me want to read it. I got it from the library right away. I'm sad to say that I have a very different opinion on the book. I did not like it and actually had to make myself finish it.
If you like Victorian historical fiction and the historical facts part is the most important to you then this is your book! His research and descriptions of Victorian London are excellent. You can hear the noise and feel the fog and smell the smells. But I am character driven and I felt his characters were not developed enough. I couldn't bond with any of them, no not one. That's why it was so hard for me to finish. Not one of them had any real depth or development thru the story. The Daughter, Emily, came across as a goodie two shoes. I could almost see her pulling out her soap box and getting on it every time an issue came up. I think that was because the character wasn't developed enough. In the O. Douglas books (that many think are too saccharin) her characters that are 'good' don't come across that way as they are developed and it's just who they are and she goes about making a point with that character without a soap box if you know what I mean. All we learn about the main detective is he is Irish and has red hair which we are reminded of at every turn.
The murder scenario it's self was a good plot. I never would have guessed the ending. But the journey there was too dry for me. Thomad De Quincy's writings are quoted thru out and it did make me look for his memoir on Gutenberg and I did download the essay on Murder. But by the end of the book, the way De Quincey was portrayed I'm not so sure I will ever get around to reading them. The extent of the opium addiction in Victorian England was unbelievable!
In my humble opinion if you want good Victorian historical mysteries with facts and great characters you can't go wrong with D.E. Meredith or Charles Finch.
*David Morrell is Canadian and this report is linked to the Canadian Book Challenge @The Book Mine Set