The English Monster

Lloyd Shepherd

The English Monster

London, 1811. The twisting streets of riverside Wapping hold many an untold sin. Bounded by the Ratcliffe Highway to the north and the modern wonders of the Dock to the south, shameful secrets are largely hidden by the noise and glory of Trade. But two families have fallen victim to foul murder, and a terrified populace calls for justice. John Harriott, magistrate of the new Thames River Police Office, must deliver revenge up to them and his only hope of doing so is Charles Horton, Harriot's senior officer. Harriott only recently came up with a word to describe what it is that Horton does. It is detection. Plymouth, 1564. Young Billy Ablass arrives from Oxford armed only with a Letter of Introduction to Captain John Hawkyns, and the burning desire of all young men; the getting and keeping of money. For Hawkyns is about to set sail in a ship owned by Queen Elizabeth herself, and Billy sees the promise of a better life with a crew intent on gain and glory. 3.3 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
The English Monster

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Hardcover
Pages 416
RRP
Date of Publication March 2012
ISBN 978-0857205353
Publisher Simon & Schuster
 

London, 1811. The twisting streets of riverside Wapping hold many an untold sin. Bounded by the Ratcliffe Highway to the north and the modern wonders of the Dock to the south, shameful secrets are largely hidden by the noise and glory of Trade. But two families have fallen victim to foul murder, and a terrified populace calls for justice. John Harriott, magistrate of the new Thames River Police Office, must deliver revenge up to them and his only hope of doing so is Charles Horton, Harriot's senior officer. Harriott only recently came up with a word to describe what it is that Horton does. It is detection. Plymouth, 1564. Young Billy Ablass arrives from Oxford armed only with a Letter of Introduction to Captain John Hawkyns, and the burning desire of all young men; the getting and keeping of money. For Hawkyns is about to set sail in a ship owned by Queen Elizabeth herself, and Billy sees the promise of a better life with a crew intent on gain and glory.

Reviews

The Independent on Sunday

Simmy Richman

Non-spoiler alert! There is a dark twist – a spot of black-magical realism, if you like – about halfway through Lloyd Shepherd's first novel that this reviewer has no desire to ruin for readers. In fact, so delicious and unexpected is this turn of events that it moves a book that is already part detective fiction, part historical novel and part pirate adventure into entirely new territory, adding themes of natural philosophy and moral turpitude to a story as rich in ideas as it is in intrigue.

26/02/2012

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The Financial Times

Suzi Feay

Shepherd moves a shade mechanically between the two parallel stories in alternating chapters. How is the buccaneer Long Billy connected to the Ratcliffe Highway murders? The answer introduces a supernatural element but the power of the novel lies in its symbolism.

23/03/2012

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The Guardian

Judith Flanders

The English Monster has a terrific idea at its core, and once Shepherd has got that down on the page, the book becomes a joyously, flamboyantly melodramatic scamper to the solution, as Williams is discovered merely to have been the decoy for the real killer, and we learn why the pirate Ablass continues to cast such a long shadow. This is a first novel, and I'm certain from the skill with which Shepherd concludes it that his second book will be worth waiting for.

24/02/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

Jake Kerridge

Despite some venial anachronisms, Shepherd really gets under the skin of Regency London. A very bizarre parallel plotline about a 16th-century sailor reluctantly involved with the slave trade rather dilutes the book’s intensity, but this is an ambitious novel.

15/03/2012

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The Sunday Times

Nick Rennison

Shepherd tells his tales well enough but, in yoking them together, he unites the historical with the fantastical. The result is a novel that uncomfortably straddles two genres.

29/04/2012

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