February 03, 2009

Books: The Revenge of Captain Paine by Andrew Pepper

The Revenge of Captain is the book by Andrew Pepper in the Pyke series and is set in 1830s London. In this book, the main protagonist, Pyke ~ former Bow Street Runner, now married into wealth and working as a banker ~ is asked by Sir Robert Peel to investigate a gruesome murder in the town of Huntingdon. Pyke duly accepts and embarks on an adventure with many twists and turns, involving early unionisation, railway construction, politics and, of course, intrigue.

Pyke himself is something of an anti-hero who has a basic sense of justice, but who will stop at nothing to achieve his results, making him on the whole a character that most readers will not want to sympathise with too much. It also seems at times that despite his supposed skill as an investigator, he can be read all too predictably by his adversaries, meaning he is often led to a dead end in his search for the solution to the mystery.

As with any modern author writing stories set in the nineteenth century, Pepper seems to delight in giving us detailed accounts of the stench and grime of the London of the era, to the extent that you can almost smell and feel the city as you read. In fact, for me it's the recounting of the life of that period which makes for the most interesting reading. There is also a fair bit of violence described in the numerous action scenes, some of which is not really for the faint-hearted.

Despite the fact that the denouement was something of a let down (as I had worked it out in advance), I will certainly read the first adventure, The Last Days of Newgate, at some point, and will be curious to see what Pyke gets up to in his next adventures.

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