Thursday, January 3, 2013

Review: The Great Stink

London sewer. How exciting can a novel about that be?

Pretty exciting, it turns out.

First of all, there's the subtitle: A novel of corruption and murder beneath the streets of Victorian London.

Then there's the romance: a returned Army vet has a chance to affect one of the biggest infrastructure projects in London history — only murder gets in the way.

Then there's Lady.

William May survived the horrors of Crimea to return to his family only to experience more hor—

Okay, it was Lady that kept me reading. I even broke my own rule of reading ahead (skimming, really) to make sure I could continue reading. You see, I loved Lady almost as much as Tom did.

And that is how I knew I liked this book: I was too tense about one of its characters. Plus, it's about government: how much more cool could it be?

The other storylines were compelling, too: May's all-too-real experiences with war that caused him such pain, to return to his family a broken man hanging on by an unraveling thread, to wonder what is real and what is not, to discover there are worse things than death, oh yes, much worse...

Then there's Tom, a lonely man who knows the sewers better than his own heart. Only he gives it away when he finds his soulmate in the most unlikely place.

The story is exciting, the characters are realistic, the situations too real for fiction — all this and great writing should guide you to this book. I read another of author Clare Clark's novels, The Nature of Monsters, which frightening, compelling and very informative about life in 18th century London.

I recommend The Great Stink — and I hope that once you've finished it, you will, too.

And special thanks to my friend Karen for reading this with me; it had been on my shelf for way too long before I read the first page with her.

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