Authur Bowman. One man who features throughout the novel a man who has served as a Sergeant in the old East India Company, a company whose tentacles reached out throughout the world and who had their own army, an army that helped defend and protect The British Empire. Set in the mid 1800's this novel takes you on a journey throughout the world and transports you back in time to The Great Stink of London where due to the skill of the author you really can imagine the awful circumstances people found themselves in.
- Antonin Varenne
This is a great fast paced adventure story which will have the reader hooked from page one when a chap called Rooney is ordered to continue his orders and deliver a message to the next port, riding his horse to breaking point the man Rooney gets the story going and when he arrives at his destination Authur Bowman steps in and takes the leading role.
Who is this Authur Bowman? Well as I said he starts off as a Sergeant in the East India Company Army, which takes him to Burma where we find him been ordered to take part in a mission and to choose ten men to accompany him, this mission will change his life and those who joined him for ever. A mission that somehow sets the foundation for this epic novel, I say epic because it is a a big read but a very enjoyable read where the writing flows and the reader is taken on a great ride full of ups and downs.
Having returned to England Bowman finds himself in The Metropolitan Docks Police. The Docks Police are a kind of annexed police force to The Met whose officers are predominantly made up of ex-Service men, the station in which he works is however ran by a Supt from The Met, a man who dislikes Bowman's attitude from the word go.
Bowman's character is brought to life by the writing skills of the author and indeed the translator as this story was written in French but you wouldn't know it as I said it flows and grips the reader making it nigh on impossible to put the book down.
Bowman is haunted by his memories in Burma and the scars on his body are a constant reminder to him, he finds solace in copious amounts of gin and the drug laudanum.
One day he is again late for work and finds the station deserted a young boy runs into the station and begs the constable for his help telling him of a body. Reluctantly Bowman goes with the boy and finds himself in the sewers where he finds a body and the word "SURVIVE" scrawled in blood on the wall near by. Bowman passes out and wakes up in hospital. It's the word survive that now haunts him as he's seen that before, where? Bowman is been treated as a suspect for the murder by his Superintendent and Bowman has to set about finding the man responsible, it must be one of his fellow men who he chose all those years ago as he saw that very word scrawled over a body in Burma. And so Bowman starts his search.
Now that is the outline of the story and I don't wish to give anything else away. But what I really liked about this book was how you were transported in time and how Bowman's journeys are described by foot for instance walking several miles where as today it would be a 10 minute drive it takes Bowman half a day. The new rail network which takes him West to Bristol and North to the Midlands and to Liverpool and beyond these shores.
It is very good descriptive writing that doesn't get the reader bogged down, it just adds to the atmosphere of the whole story.
If possible the book manages to up a gear when Bowman travels to America, and starts out from New York to Dallas via Chicago and beyond. He gets a job on a ranch where we are introduced to a new character who accompanies Bowman on his travels, his horse, a Mustang who he names Walden. After some time working on the ranch Bowman quits his job and continues his journey to track down the killer.
This really is a great read, if you like big adventure stories mixed with mystery and murder with travel and a bit of social history thrown in then this is the book for you, there are numerous characters which Bowman meets on his travels and all add to the unfolding adventures that lie ahead. This is defiantly a five out out of five mushroom heads, but don't just take my word for it, please see some of the write ups by "professional book reviewers". It's worth every penny of the £18.99 publishers price and will keep you gripped from page 1 right through to page 525.