Monday, 16 February 2015

No, I don't plan to quote every review I get - not least because it's asking for trouble and an inevitable eventual slap from someone somewhere - but thanks to Pamela O'Sullivan for making my weekend with this contribution to The Library Journal.
Gallagher, Stephen. The Bedlam Detective. Crown Pub. Group. Feb. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9780307406644. $25.

Reviews: Fiction | First Look at New Books, January 13, 2012

Sebastian Becker is a special investigator for the Lord Chancellor’s Visitor in Lunacy — a detective who studies whether various wealthy individuals are of sound mind and capable of conducting their own affairs. He is assigned to investigate a rich landowner, but his arrival in the man’s small town coincides with a double murder for which the subject of his visit seems a likely suspect. As he works to ferret out the truth, Becker must find a way to distinguish the real monsters from the imaginary ones. The story moves easily between present and past events, leading to a conclusion that is as perfectly logical as it is surprising.

Verdict Intricately drawn characters, carefully shaded depictions of events and situations, and an excellent sense of pacing mark this latest offering from Gallagher (The Kingdom of Bones; Nightmare, with Angel). This is a real page-turner, and fans will hope to see more of Sebastian Becker in the future. It may also attract readers who enjoy historical thrillers in the Caleb Carr tradition.
They don't sign the notices over at Kirkus Reviews so I don't know how better to describe this one for The Bedlam Detective...
"Gallagher has been called a horror writer, a fantasy writer, a non-fantasy writer, a writer for big screens and smaller ones, a writer whose considerable talent has enabled him to slip in and out of genres precisely as if those tidy little boxes didn't exist - as indeed they don't for his character-driven books. In this one, Sebastian Becker (The Kingdom of Bones, 2007, etc.), his fast-track career abruptly derailed, contemplates an uncertain future...[snip]

...Gallagher loves character development but respects plotting enough to give it full measure. The result is that rare beast, a literary page-turner."
The full review is online and you can read it here.

The Bedlam Detective reviewed by Marilyn Stasio in The New York Times:
"Gallagher’s detective is a man of fine character and strong principles, but he’s upstaged by the monsters he pursues. Watching Becker track down a pedophile is gratifying, but it can’t beat the sight of 20 overburdened boats hurtling through white-water rapids or Sir Owain, armed to the teeth and blasting away at giant serpents only he can see."
That complete review here.

Thanks to Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press for forwarding this Publishers Weekly starred review:
Fiction The Bedlam Detective. Stephen Gallagher. Crown, $25 (256p) ISBN 978-0-307-40664-4
Set in England in 1912, this masterful whodunit from Gallagher (Red, Red Robin) introduces Sebastian Becker, a former policeman and Pinkerton agent who now works as the special investigator to the Masters of Lunacy, looking into cases involving any “man of property” whose sanity is under question. His latest assignment takes him to the small town of Arnmouth to determine whether Sir Owain Lancaster has gone around the bend. Lancaster returned from a disastrous trip to the Amazon, which claimed the life of his wife and son, only to attribute the catastrophe to mysterious animals straight out of Doyle’s The Lost World. Lancaster believes that the creatures that plagued him in South America have followed him home, and are responsible for the deaths of two young girls, a theory supported by a local legend of a beast of the moor. Gallagher’s superior storytelling talents bode well for future adventures starring the well-rounded Becker. Agent: Howard Morhaim. (Feb.)
And finally, from The Historical Novel Society:
"It’s certainly a thriller, but with a literary depth unusual in the genre, and fascinating in the complexity of its construct. Gallagher’s prose is swift, sure, and occasionally darkly comedic. Excerpts from Lancaster’s fantastical account are interspersed with historical Amazonian reports, adding to the mystery a compelling tale of jungle survival and all the fantastical steampunk appeal of a Jules Verne or Rider Haggard story... Three words of advice: read this book."
You may care to consider this handsome pair as a stocking-filler for the fan of Victorian crime now pining away there in the corner. I've seen a surprise surge in the Amazon sales over the past few days, with new stock on the way. Don't let that deter you from supporting your local bookshop, if you have one, and if they stock the titles. A third Becker book is well in hand, and there's an upcoming story in Subterranean Magazine that picks up the chronology from the end of The Bedlam Detective.

And from our Colonial cousins, this equally handsome pair:

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