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Hawksmoor Paperback – May 25 2010
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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 BooksSee all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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 !
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.
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.