Sunday, February 26, 2012

Book Review: Bedlam...Or Not

I received The Bedlam Detective as an uncorrected proof awhile ago. It became available for sale February 7, 2012.

The cover:

Written by Stephen Gallagher, this book has a great title and an interesting premise. Essentially, the title refers to Sebastian Becker, a former Pinkerton detective who is now barely making ends meet in a destitute section of London. His current job is to meet with rich people whose sanity has been questioned, reporting information to a superior who ultimately decides whether these rich people will be allowed to continue living on their own and making their own decisions, or placed in a cushy asylum.

While investigating a gentleman named Sir Owain in a small England town, Sebastian stumbles across the disappearance (which is ultimately discovered to be the murder) of two little girls. The little girls were violated on the moor in a manner that resembles the previous treatment of two little girls years before.

The story line is pretty interesting, but the writing is not. The author tried too hard to make the characters likable and full fleshed, and ultimately ended up adding many scenes and much information that was not necessary. I also felt as though the author tried to make the novel historically accurate, yet failed; the novel feels inauthentic.

I also did not like that Sebastian does a lot of investigating in the novel, but ultimately, I did not feel that the solution to the mystery was something the reader could figure out. There simply were not enough clues that were relevant to the murder itself.

Overall, I'm not sure what the author's intent in writing this novel was. It's not a horrible novel; it's just not very good.

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