Posts Tagged ‘pyke’

It is 1844, and Pyke is now heading up the Detective Branch of the new Metropolitan Police Force.  When a robbery at a pawnbrokers leaves three men dead, Pyke soon recognises one of the victims as having links with Pyke’s own criminal past, and has to try and solve the crime before secrets from his own past are revealed.

However, this is only the first problem that Pyke will encounter during the investigation.  When the rector of a wealthy parish is murdered some months later, and a valuable antique cross is stolen, Pyke sees a connection and sets out to solve the mystery.  He soon discovers that somebody – possibly one of the men he works for – wants to keep the matter hushed up and is prepared to sacrifice Pyke’s career, or worse, to do so.  It isn’t long before he realises that he doesn’t know who he can trust – or indeed if he can trust anybody.

Meanwhile, Pyke has to deal with loss in his personal life, and a growing detachment from his 14 year old son Felix…

This is the fourth novel in the Pyke series.  All of the books have been enjoyable and this one, like those preceding it, is very readable.  The author captures the atmosphere of Victorian London, and clearly knows his subject well.  One aspect of the series that has been fascinating is how it describes the development of a police force in London from the beginning.

Pyke is somewhat more restrained in this book – necessarily so due to his job as a police inspector.  Whereas in the previous novels he was a Bow Street Runner and then an independent (of sorts) investigator, he now has a duty to uphold the law and therefore is not always able to turn to his former methods of obtaining information.  He is also becoming more considered as he gets older and is starting to realise that how he lives his life directly affects how his son Felix sees the world.

The mystery itself is satisfying, if sometimes a little over-complicated and it was occasionally necessary to remind myself who was who, and occasionally what a particular character’s role in the story was.  The ending however was excellent – probably the best ending of any of the novels so far in the series, with a twist that I certainly couldn’t have predicted.

For the most part, the characters are well drawn, and the development of Felix’s character suggests that he might play an even bigger role in future novels.  I liked the dynamic between Pyke and Felix – they love each other dearly, but don’t really understand each other.  Some of the other characters in the book were interesting to read about – I hope that the priest Martin Jakes might feature in any future Pyke novels – especially the other officers in the detective branch.

Overall, I wouldn’t say that this is the best Pyke book, but it’s certainly a worthwhile and enjoyable addition to the series.  Recommended to fans of crime and/or historical fiction.

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London 1940, and Pyke, hero (of sorts) of this series is in debtors jail, having squandered his fortune.  His erstwhile friend Fitzroy Tilling – now a senior figure in the New Police, makes Pyke an offer – he will let him get out of prison early, if Pyke will investigate the murder of a mixed-race woman whose mutilated body has been found in one of the rougher areas of London.  A wealthy aristocrat has also been murdered and all of the Police Force’s energies are being used to solve that matter, hence the reason that Tilling has called Pyke in.

Pyke accepts the job, but quickly realises that there is far more to the case than it initially appears.  His investigation takes him from smog-filled London, to the beautiful plains of Jamaica, as he uses all of his cunning, intelligence, and often violence and threats, to unravel the story.

Meanwhile, Pyke’s son Felix is now 10 years old, but these days he seems to be resentful and rebellious towards his father, and Pyke desperately wants to repair their relationship.  A murder investigation can only hamper his efforts due to the amount of his time he invests, but he is determined to solve the mystery.

This is the third book in the Pyke series.  It isn’t necessary to have read the preceding two books, although it helps as Pyke’s character is developed throughout the stories.  Here, he is in a more contemplative mood as he gets older and considers the results that his actions may have on his son.  However, he has lost none of his tendency to violence and intimidation – but he does seem to have a more sharpened sense of right and wrong, and seems to judge himself more harshly.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first book, but the second one was something of a disappointment (though still a good read) with it’s over-complicated story.  This book is a return to form.  While there are plenty of twists, turns, red herrings and dead ends, the story is a lot tighter than the events of ‘The Revenge of Captain Paine’ (book 2),and I found it a to be a great story.

As always, London’s atmosphere is brought to life, and I also enjoyed the description of the Jamaica plains.  The part of the story set in Jamaica was probably my favourite part – Pyke encounters hostility from the recently emancipated former black slaves, and finds himself questioning his own beliefs.  Andrew Pepper always seems able to provide plenty of description while never letting go of the story itself.  The ending of the story came as a real shock, and I certainly could not have predicted what would happen.

As well from Pyke himself, there are the usual dangerous underworld criminals, and Pyke’s family and friends.  He is the only really developed character, but the character of Felix is starting to grow nicely and I hope that he will feature in the ensuing books in the series.

Not one for the faint hearted, this is a fast moving and sometimes gruesome story which delves into the world of prostitution and illegal pornography.  There is a great murder mystery as the main thread of the book, and I would certainly recommend this book to fans of crime thrillers.

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London 1835, and the wind of change is in the air.  Plans are afoot for two railways to be built, connecting London with various other parts of the country and the hope is that this will encourage trade and create jobs.  However, the navvies who are building the railway are being rallied into unionising and demanding better pay and safer working conditions.  The figure at the head of this movement is the mysterious Captain Paine – nobody seems to know who the captain is, or indeed even if he really exists.  The discontent stirred up in the workers seems likely to spill over into bloodshed…

Meanwhile, life has also changed for anti-hero Pyke.  Having married the wealthy Emily Blackwood, he now finds himself, as the co-manager of a successful bank, living in a huge mansion with a large staff and plenty of money.  However, while Pyke loves his wife and young son, he is not entirely comfortable with his new station in life.  So when his former acquaintance and sometime adversary Sir Robert Peel asks him to look into the murder of murdered man whose headless corpse has been dumped in Huntingdon, Pyke uses all the skill and cunning he employed in his former occupation as a Bow Street Runner.  However, as he starts to dig deeper into the circumstances surrounding the murder, he smells corruption.  The murder is part of a much bigger problem which threatens to destroy the lives of many, and even the future of the Royal Family.  But it is when things start to become dangerous for Pyke’s family that he really gets angry…

This is the second book in the series of Pyke mysteries.  The first one is called The Last Days of Newgate (which I enjoyed immensely), but while it may help to have read the previous book, it isn’t necessary to enjoy this one.

As before, the writing is terrific, with plenty of atmosphere, really putting the reader into 1830s London.  Pyke is a terrific anti-hero – he is ruthless, violent and not above making underhand deals.  He is also largely unrepentant for his actions, only caring about the possible consequences for himself and his family.  However, despite all of this, the author lets just enough of a more gentle side come through, which makes the character one to root for, despite everything.

There are plenty of twists and turns in the plot – and this was part of the problem with this book.  While I enjoyed it and look forward to reading the next book in the series, the plot was just too convoluted.  On a number of occasions I had to flick back to remind myself who certain characters were and what their role in the story was.  There was a plot thread involving a former girlfriend of Pyke’s and events in her own history – I felt that this could all have been cut out, without losing any of the punchiness of the plot.

However, things were all made clearer by the end, and the ending itself was very satisfying; there were a couple of major plot twists which I did not see coming.

Overall, for fans of historic crime fiction this is a recommended read – but be warned that this is no gentle mystery.  There is violence and gore splattered throughout the pages.

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This book, set in London in 1829, is the first book in a series about Pyke, a Bow Street Runner, and sometime crook of questionable (to say the least) morals.

The book is set at a time for great change for the policing system: Home Secretary Peel had his plans to set up one ruling Police Force, and thus put Runners like Pike, out of work.  His plans were opposed by many, and this conflict is very well illustrated in this book.

Pyke finds himself caught up in trying to solve a brutal triple murder, and his investigations uncover a web of deception which perhaps goes as high as the Government itself, and which threatens Pyke’s livelihood and even his life.  

Aided by an enigmatic society beauty (which comes across far less cliched than that sounds), Pyke has to stay one step ahead of the powers that be at all time, as he faces danger from known and unknown persons.

I really enjoyed this book.  The action moves along at a fair old pace, and I never found myself getting bored.  1820s London is brought vividly to life, with detailed descriptions of the way of life.  However, the historical references did not detract from the main storyline; they merely served to help set the scene.

Pyke is a terrific main character.  He is a cruel and brutal man, who I felt I should dislike, but there was just enough goodness in him to make me want to root for him all the way.  As a character who was very believable, his actions still took me by surprise on many occasions.

There is a lot of violence and bloodshed in this book, and I can certainly see that that in itself would turn a lot of readers off.  I wouldn’t recommend it to a squeamish friend!  However, if you want a good crime mystery with plenty of twists and turns, and don’t mind some blood and gore, this is a great read.  I look forward to reading the next installment.

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