Posts Tagged ‘Crime’

Lawless and The Devil of Euston Square struck me as an enigma of sorts. The whole pre-“Sherlock Holmes” detective gambit and Victorian era had me running around in pandemic circles; I absolutely had to read this story. Here is the snippet on the back:

“London, 1859. Novice detective, Campbell Lawless, stumbles onto the trail of Berwick Skelton, an elusive revolutionary, threatening to bring the city to its knees with devilish acts of terror.

Thrust into a lethal, intoxicating world of sabotage and royal scandal – and aided by a gang of street urchins and a vivacious librarian – Lawless sets out to capture his underworld nemesis before he unleashes his final vengeance.”

So, sounds smashingly brilliant, am I right? Now that I’ve read it and enjoyed it, I’ve come to the conclusion that I didn’t love it as much as I was expecting to. The book starts out on fire with intrigue, water pipe eruptions, brilliant displays of setting and the tongue of the common-folk which at times was a bit tricky for me to follow. I felt like I stepped into a whole different world straight from the past and it transitioned so smoothly as if William Sutton was a simple newspaper writer, sitting on a bench detailing the daily events of the time. On a side note, Lawless and The Devil of Euston square is stock full of possible suspects and conspirators.

I tried paying close attention to each detail, trying to be a world renowned sleuth of my own means, locking on to each tiny detail in an attempt to garner a broader glimpse of the wheels in motion behind scenes. But, after a while… it began to drag.

The drag really hurt the book and sad to say, I started feeling little care anymore about whether the crime / intended crimes were solved or not by Lawless. What should have been a truly fantastic ending, seemed ill-placed when expecting it forty-or so pages earlier. To top it all off, our main hero, Lawless, in the end throws out some feelings on the conclusion of his case, that leave you even more flabbergasted as to why you should have even cared either if he doesn’t fully believe in his actions.

Lawless and The Devil of Euston Square was a solid and substantial read.  However, it might have been excellent if it had tightened up near the end a tad more. I think in a year or so, I might actually take second look into this one and reread it, gauging my review against a second glance. Lawless and The Devil of Euston Square has its highs and lows and I fully appreciate the skill of storytelling William Sutton possesses. This might be one of those rare novels in which I recommend simply reading it yourself to form a more personal opinion.

Setting: Chicago, the windy city.

Antagonist: Ismael Fisher, a sniper of unimaginable skill gone rogue.

Conflict: Some dirty political secrets that stem to the very tip of our government are on the brink of being exposed.

Hero: John Lynch, a detective way in over his head; let’s hope he can tread water fast enough.

Take out your blender, toss in a dash of perfect setting,  a pinch of deadly antagonist, a smattering  of conflict worth killing for, and top it all off with a smooth talking detective. I’ll take my Penance “…shaken, not stirred.”

The first thing to take note of in Penance is the character cast at the very beginning of the book. While it may seem a tad intimidating at the onset, by the end of the novel, I guarantee that you will appreciate the nifty bit of magic Dan O’Shea has crafted here. The lineage connections from one family generation to the next smacks you in the face with a shocking truth: Money, position, and power tend to stay within families and those families in Penance will do anything to remain in control of that power, much like those in real life.

I Love The Setting. My 83-year-old insane grandfather has been living in the same house in Chicago all his life and my mother grew up there; this book reminds me of him so much. He would always talk about the mayors, segregation, different racial neighborhoods, and cheaper gas in Indiana. This book’s setting has it all and more, it’s spot on.

There are so many fantastic things about Penance: The ease of which O’Shea incorporates his expertise / knowledge of weaponry is flawless. I don’t know if it is all completely accurate or not, but for me it worked seamlessly. I can only imagine the amount of time any other author would have spent researching some of this stuff to even try and compete with O’Shea.  Ishmael Fisher’s underlying motive for killing his seemingly innocent victims is so damn perfect… (Will not give out spoilers.)

With most novels you can get close to guessing the outcome. Penance had my head scheming up a whirlwind of different conclusions and even in the final few pages I felt the novel could turn down so many different alleyways with a single gunshot.

Pour out yourself a strong glass of Penance, add a couple more fingers worth, and shoot it straight. You might get a fierce burn in the back of your throat and by the time you’ve finally run out, you will be thanking O’Shea for crafting such a rare piece of fine art. Penance is my second novel from Exhibit A; Wounded Prey was the first, and I have Lawless & The Devil of Euston Square up next. Exhibit A has stepped up to the plate with some killer books. Watch your back.