|beautiful map by Virginia Allyn|
I finished Christopher Fowler's The Water Room and it was a really well-researched and interesting mystery. It did a great job of exploring the sewers and ancient rivers of London and making those underground places both more and less mysterious at the same time. The aging detectives are really interesting characters, quite different from a lot of the standard detective pairs these days.
To help out Trish, I'm going to start labeling series books as good for lone reads or better in the series. This book definitely works completely on its own. I, however, am very excited to continue on with the Peculiar Crimes Unit series.
Next, I did a reread of Neverwhere, which I first read four years ago. I liked it then but didn't love it but, of course, kept reading lots more of Gaiman's work. Then I listened to the recent BBC Radio play version a couple of months ago and started falling in love with the story. So this reread turned out to be the means by which I really fell in love. Being set in London Under, this tied in well to the book before it. I adored the characters and really understood so much more of the twisted tale. This won't be the last time I reread this one.
Almost two years ago, I discovered Leon Garfield through his story Smith. I loved that middle grade/YA historical adventure so I couldn't wait to read Black Jack. This was an over-the-top romp through 18th century London, at a point where the various towns (like Islington) were still separate entities. This story was a bit of a "what if Pip's (Great Expectations) convict didn't leave after he was rescued but instead tried to recruit Pip into a life of crime". Young Bartholomew Dorking's trials and adventures with the villainous Black Jack are outlandish but suspenseful. I will likely search out more of Garfield's other novels because they are smart reads to put on Z's shelves for the future.
The Agency: The Traitor in the Tunnel is the third of Y.S. Lee's Mary Quinn Mysteries. This explored a very different part and locale of London's history, Buckingham Palace during the reign of Queen Victoria, and yet somehow it ended up down in the sewers yet again. I seem to be destined to spend the summer in the tunnels under the city. Anyway, I really enjoyed the story and the character development. The Queen herself was kind of a badass too! (Best read in the series because of relationships.)
Finally, I'm getting toward the end of Oliver Twist. I totally failed in my Dickens project from last year so I knew I had to atone by picking up a London-heavy story from one of my favorite but recently-neglected authors. I can't believe I haven't read this book before. It's such an easy read and a truly compelling story. I'll talk more about it next time.
Wandering back and forth in The Smoke,