MLA Platinum Award Press Release

BookBrowse Reviews The English Monster by Lloyd Shepherd

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The English Monster

or, The Melancholy Transactions of William Ablass

by Lloyd Shepherd

The English Monster by Lloyd Shepherd X
The English Monster by Lloyd Shepherd
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    May 2012, 432 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


A swashbuckling voyage across the centuries, based on the true story of the Ratcliffe Highway Murders in England

Shepherd's devilishly clever debut isn't just a swashbuckler, nor is it just an historic thriller or a police procedural or even an allegory with a soupçon of magical realism. No. It's an elegant admixture of several genres and a smashing feat of derring-do that roller coasters between the 16th and 19th centuries. And although there is a satisfying conclusion, it is less important than the ride. With all its twists and turns, there is a singular free fall that clinches the story, making the whole thing exceptional.

In 1564, young Billy Ablass is bound for Plymouth, there to make his fortune, hoping to return to his beloved wife Kate with enough money to set themselves up on a fine farm. Maybe to raise a family. But from the moment he steps aboard the Jesus of Lübeck with the blackguard John Hawkyns, we and Billy become awash in the gritty romance of high seas adventurers who are beguiled by risk, danger, and the promise of wealth beyond their wildest dreams. Greed makes the men unimaginably ruthless.

Plunge ahead a couple hundred years to a working class neighborhood on the Thames and someone - the eponymous monster? - has savagely murdered a merchant and his family. Community panic heightens following news of a second inexplicable massacre. The murders all but dumbfound local police who are more accustomed to crimes of a mercantile nature. But there is no evidence in either case of theft, fraud or extortion. Thus we follow the eager Constable Charles Horton as he pioneers the neonate art of crime detection. And our interest never flags as the aptly named Shepherd, er, shepherds us from buccaneers ravaging islands in the south seas to the grisly slaughter of merchants in London's seedy backstreets and beyond. Tension and perplexity build as the reader collects clues, heedful of red herrings sprinkled throughout the narrative.

What these seemingly dissociated story arcs have in common will not be prised from my lips. Suffice it to say though that Shepherd's tale expands upon a theme as old as the Bible - see Mark 8:36 - that the wages of unfettered avarice and ambition can indeed be carved out of one's soul. And this roller coaster ride contains as thrilling a rush as the best suspense novels.

Reviewed by Donna Chavez

This review is from the The English Monster. It first ran in the July 25, 2012 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Pew
    Pew
    by Catherine Lacey
    A quote often attributed to Leo Tolstoy states that "All great literature is one of two stories; a ...
  • Book Jacket: Waiting for an Echo
    Waiting for an Echo
    by Christine Montross
    Dr. Christine Montross had been a practicing psychiatrist for nearly a decade when she decided to ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Flight Portfolio
    by Julie Orringer
    At once a sweeping historical narrative, an insightful character study and a tender romance, Julie ...
  • Book Jacket: The Color of Air
    The Color of Air
    by Gail Tsukiyama
    Daniel was raised in Hilo, Hawaii by Japanese immigrant parents. Having traveled to the U.S. ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    He Started It
    by Samantha Downing

    A new thriller from the twisted mind behind the mega hit My Lovely Wife.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    With or Without You
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A moving novel about twists of fate, the shifting terrain of love, and coming into your own.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Beekeeper of Aleppo
by Christy Lefteri

This moving, intimate, and beautifully written novel puts human faces on the Syrian war.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Every Bone a Prayer

Every Bone a Prayer by Ashley Blooms

A beautifully honest exploration of healing and of hope.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T Real M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.