Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Review: The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures ofHoratio Lyle by Catherine Webb:

The Particulars: Historical Mystery, Hachette, available as e-book and in print
The Source: Omnilit
The Grade: C+
The Blurb:

In Victorian London at the height of the industrial revolution, Horatio Lyle is a former volunteer law enforcement officer with a passion for science and invention. He’s also an occasional, but reluctant, sleuth. The truth is that he’d rather be in his lab tinkering with dangerous chemicals and odd machinery than running around the cobbled streets of London trying to track down stolen goods. But when his government calls, Horatio swaps his microscope for a magnifying glass, fills his pockets with things that explode, and goes forth to unravel a mystery of a singularly extraordinary nature. Thrown together with a reformed—in other words "caught"—pickpocket named Tess, and a rebellious young gentleman named Thomas, Lyle and his faithful hound, Tate, find themselves pursuing an ancient Chinese plate, a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of polite society, and a dangerous enemy who may not even be human. Solving the crime will be hard enough—surviving would be a bonus

The Review:

I bought this awhile ago when Kari Sperring ( I think) recommended Ms Webb's Urban Fantasy novels, written as Kate Griffin. Mainly because it was on sale and I was in the mood for Historical Mystery. And I am glad I did, since I enjoyed the book.

The author painted a detailed picture of London, never hiding the good and bad sides of London. Which led to a believable London, which worked as a background for Horatio's, Tess and Thomas adventures.

I liked Horatio. He was observant, witty... and totally fascinated by science. Which felt logical since a lot of scientific discoveries happened in the 1800's.Tess was a hoot. She was a thief to the finger tips which caused some intresting discussions between her and Horatio.

Thomas, the other sidekick that Horatio aquires, was Tess opposite. He was noble, and used to be sheltered. It was intresting to watch as him started to realise some unpleasant truths about his family, but I admired him for the courage he showed.

The search for the Plate took them all over London. The plot was action packed, and I frequently wondered how they would get out of trouble. But they succeeded, and I appreciated how the author used the characters strength.

I had two big problems with this novel:
1. The author's tendency to use 10 words to describe something, when 5 would have been enough. Yes, all that description led to a believable setting, but it also slowed down the pacing.
2. I wish that it had dared to take the step out it needed to be a Steampunk novel. As it was, it flirted with Steampunk but it never took the plunge.

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