Pub Date: August 2010 (orig. published in the UK in 2009)
Length: 319 pages
FTC: Review copy courtesy of the publisher
Egyptian artifacts, steampunk, and mystery together in one book? Yes, please. I was so excited to get my hands on this book. I'm an Egypt nut. And although I'm fairly new to the steampunk subgenre, it is definitely growing on me.
I was worried that I would be a little lost coming into the series in the middle, but this stands alone just fine. There are a few references to previous cases, but nothing that makes this book difficult to understand. In fact, the best parts of this book are the mystery aspects.
I really liked both Sir Maurice Newbury and his assistant Veronica Hobbes. I thought it a little odd that they seemed to be working two different cases instead of both working on one main case. That was jarring (although the cases tied together later on). The murder scenes are a bit gruesome, so those who dislike violence or gore might want to steer clear.
The steampunk was perhaps the weakest element of the book. There's passing mention of airships, a few automobile references, but the majority of the steampunk elements in this book were medical. I've read other books (like Meljean Brook's Iron Duke) that incorporated medical advances with steampunk engineering, but I don't know how common that is. The medical contraptions were the only steampunk devices described with any real detail. Everything else is scenery, mentioned in passing.
My biggest problem with this book was that it wasn't all that original. The Egyptian angle lent something fresh, but the steampunk elements weren't anything ground breaking, and the opium addicted investigator was downright derivative.
Despite those drawbacks, I am looking forward to the next book in the series. The book was a fun romp through a Sherlock Holmes meets Jules Verne type of adventure. Hopefully we'll get more emotional interaction between Newbury and Hobbes next time. And more detailed steampunk.
My Grade: B-
The Blurb (from Goodreads):
A steampunk mystery adventure featuring immortality, artifacts, and intrepid sleuths Sir Maurice Newbury and Miss Veronica Hobbes
Sir Maurice Newbury, Gentleman Investigator for the Crown, imagines life will be a little quieter after his dual successes solving The Affinity Bridge affair. But he hasn’t banked on his villainous predecessor, Knox, who is hell-bent on achieving immortality, not to mention a secret agent who isn’t quite what he seems....
So continues an adventure quite unlike any other, a thrilling steampunk mystery and the second in the series of Newbury & Hobbes investigations.