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Andrew Pepper

Author of The Last Days of Newgate

12 Works 404 Members 19 Reviews 1 Favorited

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Andrew Pepper is a lecturer in English at Queen's University.

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Andrew Pepper-The Last Days of Newgate in Historical Mysteries (March 2007)

Reviews

The last days of Newgate rightfully earns a place as one of the better historical novels. There is a score of characters to keep track of and a wee bit of patience and reflection is needed to keep them on the inner movie screen. The novel is perhaps not for the casual reader, as it is a bit more complex than usual and puts historical realism over readability and sympathetic notions. The plot follows a murder mystery set in London during the Georgian era, its protagonist is a bow street runner (first policemen of London - I had to look that up… (more)
 
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nitrolpost | 9 other reviews | Mar 19, 2024 |
'KILL-DEVIL AND WATER' is the third book in the Pyke series and finds our 'hero' languishing in a London prison for non-payment of debt. His personal life is in disarray, he is still grieving the loss of his wife Emily and his relationship with his 10 year-old son Felix has broken down.

Old acquaintance Fitzroy Tilling, now a high ranking officer in the newly formed Metropolitan Police Force, suddenly throws Pyke a lifeline; early release in return for investigating the gruesome murder of a mulatto woman found strangled and her eyes gouged out. The police are unable to investigate themselves because they are tied up trying to find the killer of a murdered nobleman, Lord Bedford, a higher political priority. Pyke, initially hesitant, agrees and soon finds his quest taking him from the slums of London to the plantations of Jamaica and back again mixing with gang lords, pornographers, ex-slave-owners and ex-slaves along the way.

There are some good and some less well done elements to this book. Firstly, it's a solid murder mystery which makes effective use of the historical setting including a few passing references to Dickens and Thackeray. Pepper competently paints the vast social differences of mid-19th century London as well as the lush greenery and savagery of the Jamaican plantations without over-egging it with too many long winded descriptions of the food, clothing and slang of the age.

However, whilst I feel that Pepper's skill as an author has improved since the opening book in the series I simply didn't feel that Pyke has developed accordingly. Pyke is meant to be an anti-hero but comes across simply as an angry man with a massive chip on his shoulder who is over-reliant on his physical prowess. Now I should admit that I skipped the second book in this series so it's possible that I've missed something vital but after finishing this one I'm still uncertain as to what really motivates Pyke. I feel that he lacks the necessary depth to carry the weight of the author's historical observations.

Whilst I believe that this novel is an improvement on the first in the series and is a decent piece of escapism its an OK read rather than a memorable read.
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PilgrimJess | 2 other reviews | Mar 13, 2022 |
'The Last Days of Newgate' is first in the Pyke series of books. It is 1829 and William IV is on the throne. Pyke is a Bow Street Runner. Sir Robert Peel is the Home Secretary and is proposing two controversial measures, the establishment of a regular Police Force, and Catholic Emancipation. Should the Police Reform Bill be passed then the Bow Street Runners will be disbanded.

When a young Irish couple, one Catholic, one Protestant, along with their newborn baby are brutally murdered sectarian violence flares in the city so Pyke sets out to discover their killer but soon realises that powerful and influential men may be complicit in the deaths.

This is a potent mix of sectarian politics and raw violence. Pyke is a man of contradictions with a curious set of morals. He owns a seedy gin palace, attends the opera with the wealthy and bear baiting with the poor, he is a sometime private investigator for the wealthy and sometime thief taker; he foments civil rebellion without any qualms for the participants, is sometime thief and a casual killer if they suit his purpose.

When I was at school many, many, many years ago we were taught British history from the end of the Napoleonic War until the beginning of WWI and therefore studied many of the issues covered by this novel. Consequently it was rather nice to be reminded of this period of history: Police Reform, Catholic Emancipation, rotten boroughs, the practice of paying the Church tithes and the Poor Law to name a few. I could almost smell the gutters and poverty; feel the depravity and despair of the poorer inhabitants of pre-Victorian London but felt there were also parts of the plot that simply weren't credible and the ending rather rushed.

Overall I found this a quick and easy read without being anything special but I also found Pyke an interesting character and would be willing to see just how he develops.
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½
 
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PilgrimJess | 9 other reviews | Jan 14, 2022 |
Oh, I enjoyed this! Well written thriller set in London in 1829 against the background of the setting up of the metropolitan police, with a thoroughly amoral protagonist, who is nevertheless extremely engaging. Lots of gore.
 
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Only2rs | 9 other reviews | Feb 2, 2018 |

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Works
12
Members
404
Popularity
#60,140
Rating
½ 3.3
Reviews
19
ISBNs
40
Languages
3
Favorited
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