This book is listed as a mystery, but it is so much more:nearly 600 pages of pure tension, from the very first sentence, set in1854:
After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn’s for an oyster supper.
The protagonist, Edward Gyver, then spins a tale of revenge that goes back to his childhood, in 1820, where his loving mother supports the two of them by writing novels. As he grows he meets an implacable enemy, first at Eton, who follows him throughout the coming years.
Cox fills the background with sights and smells of Victorian England, particularly London, which Gyver calls The Leviathan. Much of the book is held in a background of books. Giver is a bibliophile and footnotes are thick. He is especially fond of the sermons of John Donne.
As a writer of historical novels, I’m astonished at the depth and the quality of his research, which he says took him 30 years to gather and write this book.
I’ll warn you, the last 200 pages are so intense that I did nothing but read for a whole morning.
I know that I’ll pass this on as one of the very best books of the year, if not the best.