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The Kingdom of Bones: A Novel by Stephen…
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The Kingdom of Bones: A Novel (edition 2007)

by Stephen Gallagher (Author)

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Member:MamaDun
Title:The Kingdom of Bones: A Novel
Authors:Stephen Gallagher (Author)
Info:Crown (2007), Edition: First Edition, 384 pages
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The Kingdom of Bones: A Novel by Stephen Gallagher

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"The Kingdom of Bones" is the haunting story of Tom Sayers, a former boxing champion who must continue to fight--to clear his name after a series of gruesome murders, for the heart and soul of a leading lady, and to uncover the truth behind a legend as old as evil itself.
Wrongly accused of the slaughter of pauper children in the wake of the touring theater company he manages, Tom Sayers is forced to disappear into a twilight world of music halls and traveling boxing booths. Beginning with a chance encounter in a Philadelphia pleasure park one weekend in 1903, this brilliantly macabre mystery traces Sayers' journey from England's provincial playhouses through London's mighty Lyceum Theatre and on to the high society of a transforming American South--with many a secret to be uncovered in the dark alleyways, backstage areas, and houses of ill repute that lie along the way.
As Sayers seeks the truth behind the killings, he is pursued in turn by the tireless Detective Inspector Sebastian Becker. Desperate to ensure the safety of actress Louise Porter, Sayers calls on an old friend, Bram Stoker, for help. But Stoker's links with the world of the Victorian occult lead Sayers to discover a danger even greater than he could have imagined.
Thrown into a maelstrom of obsession, betrayal, and sacrifice--where even the pure may not escape damnation--Sayers must face the implications of an unthinkable bargain: the exchange of a soul for a chance at eternal life.
With action that spans continents, decades, and every level of society, "The Kingdom of Bones" follows the troubled lives of those touched by Tom Sayers, ultimately weaving their stories into a harrowing climax that stirs the mind--and the blood.


I read the The Bedlam Detective (Sebastian Becker, #2) first and thoroughly enjoyed it and I was thrilled to find out that another Becker novel existed.

The author gets the settings and the atmosphere pitch perfect and you feel you are reading a novel of the time. Highly recommended ( )
  jan.fleming | Nov 9, 2015 |
“The Kingdom of Bones” is a mystery, and a book about the supernatural, but mostly it’s a book about obsessive love.

Tom Sayers, ex-boxer and manager of a small theatrical troupe, is in love with Louise Porter, the troupe’s ingénue. Sadly for him, she is infatuated with the troupe’s young lead, who is being groomed by the owner of the troupe. It’s obvious he’s being groomed to replace him on stage, but what most don’t realize is that he’s also set to take over a far darker role from his mentor.

When a string of murders becomes connected to the movements of the troupe and the detective investigating it is killed, Sayers is implicated. He is forced to flee, but his own safety is not his prime worry- he’s also concerned with Louise’s well being, as it’s obvious that the murderer is someone in the group of actors. Another detective, Sebastian Becker, takes the case personally, but the mystery ends up covering decades and a change of continents before he gets full satisfaction. It’s not a simple serial killer, but an ancient evil that Becker and Sayers have found.

In one way, the book was gripping. But I found myself unsatisfied; Sayers character is a bit flat, his only motivation being to preserve Louise, even when she makes it very, very clear she does not love him. In fact, all the characters are undeveloped although not horribly so. The plot is a bit slow at times, but the descriptions fill out the late Victorian/early Edwardian scenes wonderfully. The addition of Bram Stoker, who was historically involved in both the theater and the occult world, is a nice touch. A worthwhile, readable book but not a great one. ( )
1 vote lauriebrown54 | May 20, 2010 |
Paranormal? Well, it's really up to the reader to decide but Gallagher raised the hair on the back of my neck.

I really enjoyed this book, though I thought more work could have been put into Sayer pugilist skills. ( )
  clothingoptional | Aug 16, 2008 |
Has to do with a friend of Bram Stoker's, who was then the stage/road manager for an old actor with his own troupe. The main character gets framed for murder and ends up in the United States. The underlying premise is rather silly, but it's a very exciting story. ( )
  picardyrose | Jul 28, 2008 |
The Kingdom of Bones is ultimately a story about what a man will do for love. Tom Sayers is a former prizefighter turned stage manager for a traveling company in the late 1800's and his quest to first clear himself of a series of murders, then rescue his love from an ancient evil. In the mix, Gallagher adds a nicely twisty plot involving help from a police inspector turned Pinkerton agent and Bram Stoker and lyrical prose that easily captivates the reader. Highly recommended! ( )
  drneutron | Apr 16, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 030738280X, Hardcover)

The Kingdom of Bones is the haunting story of Tom Sayers, a former boxing champion who must continue to fight--to clear his name after a series of gruesome murders, for the heart and soul of a leading lady, and to uncover the truth behind a legend as old as evil itself.

Wrongly accused of the slaughter of pauper children in the wake of the touring theater company he manages, Tom Sayers is forced to disappear into a twilight world of music halls and traveling boxing booths. Beginning with a chance encounter in a Philadelphia pleasure park one weekend in 1903, this brilliantly macabre mystery traces Sayers's journey from England's provincial playhouses through London's mighty Lyceum Theatre and on to the high society of a transforming American South--with many a secret to be uncovered in the dark alleyways, backstage areas, and houses of ill repute that lie along the way.

As Sayers seeks the truth behind the killings, he is pursued in turn by the tireless Detective Inspector Sebastian Becker. Desperate to ensure the safety of actress Louise Porter, Sayers calls on an old friend, Bram Stoker, for help. But Stoker's links with the world of the Victorian occult lead Sayers to discover a danger even greater than he could have imagined.

Thrown into a maelstrom of obsession, betrayal, and sacrifice--where even the pure may not escape damnation--Sayers must face the implications of an unthinkable bargain: the exchange of a soul for a chance at eternal life.

With action that spans continents, decades, and every level of society, The Kingdom of Bones follows the troubled lives of those touched by Tom Sayers, ultimately weaving their stories into a harrowing climax that stirs the mind--and the blood.

Questions for Stephen Gallagher

Jeff VanderMeer for Amazon.com: Could you describe your surroundings as you answer these questions?

Gallagher: I'm in my study with a bare wood floor and a beamed ceiling that goes all the way up to the roofline. The lighting comes from a rack of spotlights on one of the beams. There are two desks back-to-back with a flatscreen monitor on each and a swivel chair so that I can spin from one to the other in your basic Evil Genius world domination setup. The house is a rural Victorian cottage about half an hour's drive from Lancaster, England, and until ten years ago this room was just space above the garage. Back then I rented an office in town, but it made more sense to spend the money creating a dedicated workspace while putting the house back to its period look.

Amazon.com: What provided the spark for The Kingdom of Bones?

Gallagher: Writing a short story called "Old, Red Shoes" for a Ripper-themed collection edited by Gardner Dozois. It was a contemporary tale but the work involved visiting all the Whitechapel locations and researching the period, and I came out hooked. Not so much on the Ripper stuff as on that whole rich and epic environment. I saw the prospect of attempting something utterly real and historically accurate, but with a genuine operatic sweep.

Amazon.com: I assume there was some research involved. Can you share a few interesting details that didn't make it into the novel?

Gallagher: It was fascinating to sort through Bram Stoker's working papers for Dracula in Philadelphia's Rosenbach museum and get a sense of another writer's process. The way he sketched out rough structures for each chapter and set a wordage target for each, striking each one out with a single pencil stroke when the chapter was done. Sudden flashes of insight scribbled on hotel stationery. None of this makes any direct appearance in The Kingdom of Bones, but it helped me get a real sense of Stoker's presence. As you probably know, he was Henry Irving's right-hand man and stood right at the heart of the theatrical and social scenes of the day. But no contemporary portrayal ever quite seems to nail him.

Amazon.com: Besides making sure the historical detail didn't overwhelm the story, what was the biggest writing challenge for you with this novel?

Gallagher: There were so many strands that it allowed me to pull together. The biggest challenge was in making them all work to a single end. I wanted to capture some of the energy of the old dime novels and story papers but also to be able to say something meaningful about love, death and obsession along the way. However you think I did, give me some credit for aiming high. There's no reason why popular fiction should be devoid of theme, and no reason why serious art shouldn't entertain.

Amazon.com: Do you have a favorite scene in The Kingdom of Bones?

Gallagher: That would have to be the scene where Tom Sayers climbs up into the ironwork of a railway bridge to take shelter and to hide from his pursuers on the day of his arrest. He's got nothing but the clothes he's wearing and the coat he just stole from a beerhouse, and no money for food other than some pennies he found in the coat's pocket. Steam trains are thundering over his head, and smoke and sparks are falling around him like fairy rain. It's the first time he's been able to stop and draw breath. He's been falsely accused, beaten by the police, and faces a hanging if they catch him. But all he can think about is the safety of the woman he loves. That's despite the fact that she doesn't love him back, and almost certainly never will. I suppose it's my favorite scene because it's one of those moments where we can see fate being determined by character.

Amazon.com: What has reader reaction been like to the book?

Gallagher: Unbelievable. I mean, genuinely. Complete strangers have been tracking me down just to tell me how they feel about it. It's only been out a few weeks and it's drawn the biggest reader reaction of anything I've ever done. People are doubling up copies to give them as Christmas presents. Which I'm entirely in favor of.

Amazon.com: What are you currently working on?

Gallagher: Another big period story. It's not a sequel, but a standalone novel of similar character. Some of the same people play a part, but you see them at a very different time and place in their lives. What I do next may depend on the progress of the WGA strike. The format rights of my last UK series have been picked up by Jerry Bruckheimer and that's opened some doors into American TV, but everything's on hold until the issues are resolved. But earlier this year I roughed out the key story points for a third book in The Kingdom of Bones vein, so there's no danger of me standing idle.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:34 -0400)

Escaping from custody after being arrested for the serial killings of pauper children, former boxing champion Tom Sayers, desperate to prove himself innocent and to reveal the true murderer, searches for the dark truth and ancient evil behind the murders.… (more)

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