Crime in Victorian London
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Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber's Book Review Team
I loved this book. Although the third part of a trilogy, it is a complete stand-alone (I haven't read the other parts), with a two page preface that gives exactly the right information about what has happened before; this is so well written that I couldn't wait to get cracking on the main story.
Back Home is an excellent piece of intricately researched historical fiction, set in the mid 19th century, when affluent, middle class John Williamson returns home from thirty years in Borneo and India to find England a place that has gone through much change. Circumstances take him to London, where he becomes involved with the murky, criminal side of life in order to rescue a friend from danger—and because he is being blackmailed.
I enjoyed every word of this novel. It's so cleverly written, with low-key humour in parts, the research used subtly and inobtrusively. Williamson's new life centres around an underground industry; the detail about this is fascinating, as are the eye-opening accounts of life in early Victorian slums. That aside, I loved reading about his impressions of this new London, his observations about the sociological changes and patterns, and the people he meets. Even the mundane domestic detail held my attention a hundred per cent.
I shall be reading the previous book, Cawnpore, very soon (I've just bought it), and highly recommend this novel to all lovers of intelligent historical fiction. Really impressed!