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Hawksmoor Paperback – May 25 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Hamish Hamilton (May 25 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014104201X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141042015
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 259 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #255,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Library Journal

Eighteenth- and 20th-century London merge as Nicholas Hawksmoor, C.I.D., investigates a series of murders whose only connection is locale18th-century churches constructed by Nicholas Dyer. Resisting modern, more systematic methods of detection, Hawksmoor interprets the historic connection between these places, old murders and new, slayers and slain, murderers and pursuers, defying time, religion, and reason itself. Despite exacting re-creation of Dyer's London and careful mirroring of 18th-century people and places in the 20th century, the novel lacks a focus that would make a point behind the wealth of detail. As it is, tantalizing symmetries, provocative discussions of architecture, debates on ancient and modern lead nowhere and frustrate the reader. Cynthia Johnson Whealler, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, Mass.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Chillingly brilliant ... sinister and stunningly well executed Independent on Sunday Extraordinary, amazing, vivid, convincing. [Ackroyd's] view of life questions the role not just of the novel but of art and history, memory, time and much else Financial Times A novel remarkable for [its] power, ingenuity and subtlety London Review of Books

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa055cf84) out of 5 stars 29 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa055c288) out of 5 stars Brilliant book July 13 2008
By Nimue - Published on
Format: Paperback
"Hawksmoor" is actually one of my very favorite books, and certainly ranks with "Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem" as one of Ackroyd's best. Yes, it does travel back and forth in time and space, but it is not difficult for an attentive reader to follow. Ackroyd's knowledge of the esoteric underpinnings of numerology and architecture, and his vast knowledge of the history and culture of London make this book a rewarding mystery. I cannot visit a Hawksmoor church now without this book haunting my steps.

I've read it repeatedly, and taught it in an "Alternative Londons" course (with "From Hell" and "Neverwhere", two more superior London books). Students have loved it. Not, perhaps to everyone's taste, but highly recommended. If you're looking for emotional ties to characters (as the other reviewer seemed to be), look elsewhere; part of the novel's mood lies in the icy detachment of the characters in both timelines. If you're looking for a brainy adventure with more than a touch of the creepy supernatural, this is a book for you.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa08a2318) out of 5 stars Flawed, but still a macabre tour-de-force. Jan. 3 2003
By TM - Published on
Format: Paperback
Peter Ackroyd enjoys a deserved reputation as the foremost contemporary interpretor and historian of London, especially the city's hidden and arcane aspects. As a painter of London's underbelly he is unquestionably Dickens's heir. His feeling for the city as an almost living entity, oppressive in the accumulated weight of its sprawling physical structure and the mass of lives that have passed through it, and frequently been crushed in the process, is one shared probably more or less conciously by most Londoners. In such an environment, where the most modern buildings can stand on a street pattern centuries old, the present can never entirely cut itself free from the past. This is Ackroyd's main theme, brought to life with chilling brilliance in this story of murder and superstition in the 17th century sounding a physical echo in a series of slayings in the 20th. Be aware that this is not a simple murder mystery in period costume. The narrative is poetic and allusive with much, especially the ending, left for the reader to interpret. It is not wholly succesful in the intertwining of past and present. Ackroyd's 16th century London fizzes with life, the characters and the city brilliantly conjured (Ackroyd has a skilful ability to write in a way that is actually less archaic than it feels when caught up in the narrative flow). By contrast, he fails to breathe much life into the modern day scenes and characters. This may be partly an intentional contrast, but either way these scenes are rather flat. Nonetheless, the book is hugely enjoyable. The demonical architect Nicholas Dyer (the 20th c. detective is the Hawksmoor of the title) is a great creation, and the dark world he inhabits stands with the classics of the literature of the macabre and supernatural. It will certainly impell a London (or London bound) reader to explore the churches built by the historical Hawksmoor with new eyes, as however fantastical the story, the geography and architectural details are completely accurate. I remember well seeing tramps descend into the shelter in the understory of Christchurch Spitalfields.
The structurally flawless (and very chilling) 'Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem', which inhabits the London of Jack the Ripper and the heyday of the Music Hall, is also highly recommended.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa04589f0) out of 5 stars In praise of Hawksmoor! Sept. 14 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Unlike some readers who have reviewed this work, I found it utterly compelling. The atmosphere of old London was masterfully evoked and the psychology of the principal characters was particularly well wrought. That Nicholas Dyer was a master of the "Magick Arts" but was beset by paranoia and depression, let alone his physical ills, made him an entirely believable person; very different from the usual fictional mage who is master of everything. Likewise, Hawksmoor's mental disorder and gradually loosening grip on his reality made for a sadly credible character.
I found the 18th century style of writing to be highly readable with a minimum of effort, yet it added greatly to the creation of the atmosphere of the historical period. I think that the author must have devoted a great deal of careful attention to this aspect of the novel; as he must also have done to his researches into the churches and geography of old London.
A dark and scary story; and I am slightly spooked that I found my copy at a second hand stall near the Thames just after a walk that had taken me unknowingly past St. Mary Woolnoth's church and a number of other locations in the book !
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa07f4be8) out of 5 stars Not the best introduction to Ackroyd Feb. 15 2002
By Leigh Munro - Published on
Format: Paperback
The historical detail in this book is fabulous - I work opposite Christ Church in Spitalfields and I am intrigued to know more about the real Nicholas Hawksmoor. What interests me is where Ackroyd had the idea to make Hawksmoor a Satanist and to interpret the architecture of these churches so as to see occult references everywhere.
The story itself, though, was heavy-going and I almost did not finish the book. The book, whilst interesting, was somewhat disappointing compared to Ackroyd's other works. (I previously reviewed this in 1999 and my opinion has not changed)
If you are interested in Peter Ackroyd or historical London, his biographies of Dickens and London are terrific.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa11aa66c) out of 5 stars Interesting but Somewhat Pointless Sept. 2 2009
By Alan M. Polansky - Published on
Format: Paperback
I am a mystery fan who recently read Hawksmoor so that this review is from the perspective of a mystery fan. As has been pointed out, the book revolves around two parallel stories, one in the eighteenth century and one in the "present" (about 20 years ago). The eighteenth century part of the book is written in first person and the writing for this part of the book is well done. The use of eighteenth century English really helps one feel the mood of post-plague London. It is a bit difficult to follow in some places, but the effort is worth the time. One the other hand, the writing for the "present" part of the book is not nearly as well done. Much of the dialogue is awkward, and the plot is rather thin. Ackroyd also has an annoying habit of making the parallelism between the two stories very very obvious. It seems that on every other page he seems to be screaming at you: "Remember these two stories are parallel!". O.K., I get it already! I was also amazed at how Ackroyd becomes so wrapped up in attempting to use pretentious writing, that he seems to lose his common sense. At one point, Ackroyd makes a comment that time passes like points on a balloon the is being blown up, his point being that all of the points on the balloon move away from each other at the same rate. The problem is that this is not true! The points on the neck of the balloon stay relatively close whereas points on the other end of the balloon move away from each other at a much faster rate.
However, my main disappointment with the book is the plot for the "present" part of the story. Not only is the plot thin, but the ending leaves one wondering if the last chapter of the book was truncated. I would have been much happier just reading the eighteenth century part of the book by itself.