Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Quick - Lauren Owen - Random House

"London, 1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society, and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Unnerved, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine city that greets her, she uncovers a secret world at the margins populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of one of the country’s preeminent and mysterious institutions: The Aegolius Club, whose members include the most ambitious, and most dangerous, men in England."

This is Owen's first novel, though it doesn't seem naive or undercooked.  She knows how to create the world. And what a world she's created.  I loved this.  At the same time I was terrified.  It's a sophisticated Ripper Street, with hints of Conan-Doyle gothicism!  beguiling and terrifying. The suspense is almost agonising, but like a beautiful corpse you can't look away.  Nor should = but do not read this before sleeping - it will give you nightmares!

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