The Great Stink: A Novel of Corruption and Murder Beneath the Streets of Victorian London
3 journalers for this copy...
It is 1855, and engineer William May has returned home to London and his beloved wife from the horrors of the Crimean War. When he secures a job transforming the city''s sewer system, he believes it will prove his salvation, as, in the subterranean world beneath the city, he begins to lay his ghosts to rest. But when the peace of the tunnels is shattered by a violent murder William loses his tenuous hold on his sanity. Implicated in the crime, plagued by nightmares and visions, he is no longer sure: Could he truly have committed it? Long Arm Tom is a tosher who scavenges for anything of value in the old sewers, always accompanied by his beloved dog Lady. It is this business that brings him into contact with "The Captain," a wealthy businessman with a weakness for gambling who asks Tom to use his knowledge of London''s underworld for an even less savory purpose. But Tom is also William''s only hope of salvation. Will he help William bring the truth aboveground? With richly atmospheric prose of almost visceral power, The Great Stink transports us behind (and below) the glittering faades of Victorian England. Seamlessly combining fact with fiction, it marks the debut of an outstandingly talented writer in the tradition of the very best of historical novelists.
William May returns from the Crimean War an almost broken man. He has what is obviously post traumatic stress syndrome and the only way he can act normally around his wife and son is to go down into the sewers to cut his wrists. Eventually, May gets a job with the city to help transform the sewer system. This leads May in to some tricky scenarios from corrupt city workers that make him lose his mind and his family. Did he witness a murder in the tunnels? Or was it just his deranged mind?
I found this book to be a fairly slow read even though it was very interesting. I'm not sure if it was the structure of the book that made it slow as I was definitely engaged. I was surprised that someone would pick this subject for their book but it worked! Though there is some history in this book from the little bits of Crimean war and how the sewers were overhauled, I didn't find this as much as a historical fiction as a fictional mystery. Though I do wish the mystery had started a bit earlier in the book, there was still enough tension to keep me engaged. Definitely an interesting read.
William May is an engineer just returned from the Crimean War. The war affected him to the point where he finds his only salvation to to cut his wrists down in the tunnels. This seems to keep the ghosts at bay and allows May to lead an almost normal life. When asked to become involved in a kickback scheme May refuses and eventually is accused of the murder of one of the suppliers of brick.
Long Arm Tom is a person who trolls the tunnels for valuables. He is asked by the Captain to do hide the body of the supplier. Tom is William's only hope of a normal life and really of any life at all. What will happen??
I enjoyed the historical part of this book and found the information about the sewers and the people of this era fascinating. The mystery however was a bit slow to start and I found my interest floundering a bit