The Bedlam Detective: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Feb 7 2012
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"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…Three words of advice: read this book.” —Historical Novel Society, Editors' Choice
“Masterful whodunit…Gallagher’s superior storytelling talents bode well for future adventures starring the well-rounded Becker.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Monsters, actual and metaphorical, are at the heart of this superbly crafted thriller....Gallagher loves character development but respects plotting enough to give it full measure. The result is that rare beast, a literary page-turner." –Kirkus, starred review
“The story moves easily between present and past events, leading to a conclusion that is as perfectly logical as it is surprising…Intricately drawn characters, carefully shaded depictions of events and situations, and an excellent sense of pacing…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.” –Library Journal
“Gallagher's great character development and clever plotting has created a great result: A rare literary masterpiece for the lovers of historical crime fiction.” -MysteryTribune.com
“Gallagher’s latest is a great thriller/mystery with a unique character premise. I would love to see this developed into a series.” –Becky Lejeune, BookBitch.com
“Riveting…highly recommended.” –Charles DeLint, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
Praise for Steven Gallagher:
“Perhaps the finest contemporary British thriller writer.” –GQ
“Stephen Gallagher shows the occult mystery in its best light.” –New York Times Book Review
“Gallagher has quietly become Britain's finest popular novelist, working a dark seam between horror and the psychological thriller.” –Arena
“The finest British writer of bestselling popular fiction since le Carre... Gallagher, like le Carre, is a novelist whose themes seem to reflect something of the essence of our times, whose skill lies in embedding those themes in accessible plots.” –The Independent, London
"A master of pace and suspense, Gallagher has the dark, neon-splashed imagination of a true original." –Glasgow Evening Times
"Gallagher is a master of abnormal psychology and he just gets better and better." –Mystery Scene
“If thriller-reading were a sin, Stephen Gallagher would be responsible for my ultimate damnation.” –Dean R. Koontz
About the Author
STEPHEN GALLAGHER is a novelist, screenwriter, and director, the author of fourteen novels, including Nightmare, with Angel; The Kingdom of Bones; and Red, Red Robin. He is a British Fantasy Award and International Horror Guild Award winner, and a Stoker and World Fantasy Award nominee.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I've never read a novel by this author before, but now I will certainly seek out other works by him. I thoroughly enjoyed the construction of the mystery aspects of this book and was actually surprised by the revelation of what had happened to the four young girls. The novel has that unsettled feeling of making the reader wonder whether Sir Owain is ever going to be able to convince Becker of his sanity. And what mystery surrounds the doctor who is Sir Owain's constant companion? The gradual unfolding of the evidence of the events which took place on the trip through the jungle is well crafted and revealed in such small portions that I was always wondering when the full results would be revealed. The novel is being billed as a literary thriller and I can say that I absolutely agree with that. The story is intense, moody, somber, and dark. Thankfully the author has given the reader just enough bright spots to keep us from being completely overwhelmed by the dark. Don't miss the final chapter, a Postscript, on a page by itself. I almost didn't see it. I wonder if there is any thought of this becoming a series? I would certainly be ready for the next adventure of Sebastian Becker, Special Investigator for The Lord Chancellor's Visitor in Lunacy.
I was so curious about this governmental agency, The Lord Chancellor's Visitor in Lunacy, that I did a bit of research and discovered that it did exist, it was not just created from the imagination of the author. What a wonderfully quirky discovery to make and turn into the basis of a novel. Well done, Mr Gallagher.
A complimentary copy of this novel was provided to me by the publisher.
In "The Bedlam Detective," the author captures the oppressive atmosphere of an English village, where everyone knows everyone else's business, yet it is still possible for someone to conceal sordid secrets. Who is the villain preying on defenseless young women? There are a number of suspects, including Sir Owain himself. Adding to the speculation is Sir Owain's book, "The Empire of Beasts," in which he recounts his horrendous experiences in South America. He claims that "rampaging creatures" tore apart his wife, child, and the other members of his party. Most individuals contemptuously dismiss Lancaster's narrative as the ravings of a madman.
The author's vividly depicted characters include Sir Owain, a Renaissance man who is clinging to his last vestiges of sanity; Owain's personal physician and surly chauffeur; two courageous women who were abused when they were younger but managed to survive; an inexperienced but earnest detective, Stephen Reed; and Sebastian's plucky wife and quirky son. This is a chilling and suspenseful historical mystery with intriguing details about medicine, women's rights, photography, and law in the early twentieth century. Gallagher suggests that there are indeed wild beasts loose in the world. Sadly, those of the two-legged variety are driven by their inner demons to commit monstrous deeds.
Gallagher puts a lot of energy into setting up his protagonist and describing his home circumstances, as well as creating deep backgrounds for the other characters, all of whom are interesting and believable. His evocation of the period setting is also very realistic, but not jarring in the sense of having it constantly pointed out to the reader, or endlessly described. He takes the reality of his own setting for granted, and thus convinces the reader without belaboring the point.
The novel clips along at a good pace until about 2/3rds of the way through, when it seems to lose its own plot. The solution is not reached through careful detective work (in fact, Becker has no interesting or particularly convincing methodology), and there are no real clues for the reader to follow, and thus no way of 'predicting' the solution, which I found rather frustrating. The last part is certainly filled with tension and keeps you flipping the pages, but doesn't really provide the reader with a satisfying intellectual challenge, just a series of cliff-hanger chapters.
Sebastian Becker, the protagonist, is an interesting man. He carries the whole book on his shoulders effortlessly, guiding the reader on through the different chapters without ever becoming dull or predictable. He comes through as a real person, with his issues, but always maintaining the "hero" status. It was fascinating to follow him into the world of madness in the Victorian era, with all its grotesquerie and violence. From the first chapter, when he is called by a train conductor to have him investigate a pair of conjoined twins in formaldehyde, we know that this is one dark story. And we are not misled. Murders, rapes, poison darts and a sinister old man living in a dilapidated estate are enough to keep any lover of mysteries thoroughly entertained.
The writing is beautiful. There are some phrases which left me smiling, just at the way the words are shaped into meaning. I truly enjoyed submerging myself in this era, and in this book in particular, and I'll definitely pick up some more of this author's works. I highly recommend this book.
The writing style was basic (neither lyrical nor purple). Dialogue was stilted and not spontaneous.
In summary, I spent $12.99 on a book that should be considered a run-of-the-mill paperback. I wish I could get a $7 refund and pay what the book was worth! Or better yet, I wish I could have borrowed this book from a friend or my local library!