The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man
PYR, Mar 22 2011, $16.00
In sort of 1862 in Trafalgar Square, someone abandons a clockwork brass man. The King’s agent Sir Richard Francis Burton and his sidekick poet Algernon Swinburne investigate as the object is linked to the stolen Garnier Collection of black diamonds thought to be from the Lemurian Eye of Naga meteorite. Their inquiry leads to the Tichborne Claimant.
A man claims that he is wealthy heir Roger Tichborne, who allegedly died at sea. Burton investigates this Tichborne while rioting amongst the lower class has broken out tied to this grotesque odd individual; anyone who knew the aristocrat before he was lost at sea would never recognize him as this claimant. However this Tichborne pretender in spite of one syllable one word droning responses somehow has the support of the angry lower class. The case turns crazier than time changing as Burton and Swinburne begin to connect dots of an insidious scheme that threatens the Empire and their sanity.
The sequel to The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack is a terrific alternative historical thriller that is anchored by real nineteenth century persona like Florence Nightingale and Charles Doyle. Burton is a wonderful protagonist who knows destiny tilted as he remains haunted by some nefarious things he did. Herbert Spencer is a key character helping the lead duo stay focused on deciphering the clues of what increasingly appears is a plan to set the sun forever on the British Empire. Although it pays to read Spring Heeled Jack first as that sets the table, the Clockwork Man is more than just a middle book as adventures of Burton and Swinburne keep on occurring while time is running out on them.