Russell James has been named “the Godfather of Noir” by Ian Rankin. Russell writes crime novels - about criminals and victims, not the cozy procedural or whodunnit. He is the editor of Great British Fictional Detectives.
many readers, Lynn Shepherd’s tales of the Victorian detective Charles Maddox
are among the most rewarding in the genre, inserting famous characters from
19th century literature into a deeply researched (but not overladen) Victorian
background. Maddox and his father have
already been involved in the plots of Dickens (Bleak House), Collins (The
Woman in White), Mary Shelley (Frankenstein)
and Jane Austen (Mansfield Park).
In The Pierced Heart a mysterious baron who shuns the light quits his
mountain-top castle for Whitby to pursue Lucy and another young woman, as well
as several ‘unfortunates’ from the slums of London. Gruesomely desecrated bodies are found
drained of blood – with puncture marks to the neck.
Could this be . . . no,
For this is Baron von
Reisenberg, not Count Dracula. And yet .
Charles Maddox, like
Jonathan Harker, has already been to the lonely darkened castle – where his
visit ended badly. Must he face the
Baron again? Will it be time for Maddox
to face his own demons? Have no
fear. This artful romp is a delight from
beginning to end, even if Shepherd does deliver one outrageous coincidence at
the end – but where would Victorian novels be without coincidences? It surely means that if Maddox fans have so
far found him less colourful than the characters about him, his life is now
about to become – literally – fantastic. I can’t wait.