Book review

The Death Collector by Justin Richards (2006)

Bit of a Frankenstein flavour to this one. Murder and melodrama in the smogbound streets of Victorian London.

Actually, the first chapter quite spooked me, and it was only Albert Wilkes coming home for his tea. Well, it was four days after his own funeral.

Albert Wilkes, oblivious to the reaction he had provoked, sat down at the small round table. Just as he had every evening for the last thirty years. He sat, silent and still, and waited for his widow to bring him his tea.

I thought it was just going to turn out to be a big mistake or a joke in rather poor taste. But no. The man really is dead. And that is just the beginning of it.

Now, what is going on here? Who is masterminding this foul science? And perhaps more to the point, who is going to put the world back to rights?

I'll tell you something you may not know. There is a small and rather secret department attached to the British Museum. It is the Department of Unclassified Artefacts:

'Most of our artefacts seem innocent enough on first inspection. It is only when scientific and historical examination throws up contradictions and paradoxes that they come to us. A tooth might seem normal enough, unless it is the tooth of a vampire. The pelt of an animal of the canine family is unremarkable, unless it was taken from a werewolf...'

An interesting department to work in, wouldn't you agree? Sir William Protheroe invites young George Archer to join him there. And George Archer accepts. That's because there's a mystery he needs to help solve. British Museum employees are dropping like ninepins all around him - yes, Albert Wilkes was the first. And there are some pretty shady characters trying to lay their hands on British Museum property.

And naturally, who better to help Sir William and George on their urgent mission than Eddie Hopkins, pickpocket, and Elizabeth Oldfield, vicar's daughter? That completes the line-up, as they say, of this effective little team.

Now, all you have to do is get hold of the book, open it up, and start reading. Hugely enjoyable.

What can I read next?

Well, if you enjoy romping round smog-bound Victorian London fighting evil however it should appear, perhaps you might have a look at this darkly brilliant story by Chris Wooding:

Or, if you fancy something a little more realistic, though no less ghastly, you could try this story by Nicola Morgan:

Bit of ancient horror? Try this one by Joseph Delaney:

Or this one by Lynne Reid Banks will make your flesh crawl:

Modern grotesquerie? Truly unpleasant notion by Thomas Bloor:

But for a bizarre mixture of grotesque and humour, you'll have to look at this one by Neil Gaiman:

Happy reading!

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