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
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    May 2012, 432 pages

  • 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 July 25, 2012 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.



This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • 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 $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

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

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: New People
    New People
    by Danzy Senna
    Danzy Senna has spent virtually her entire writing career exploring the complicated intersections of...
  • Book Jacket: Hunger
    Hunger
    by Roxane Gay
    In this penetrating and fearless memoir, author Roxane Gay discusses her battle with body acceptance...
  • Book Jacket: The Black Witch
    The Black Witch
    by Laurie Forest
    In The Black Witch, Laurie Forest introduces her readers to an immersive fantasy world where ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

Cruel Beautiful World examines the intricate, infinitesimal distance between seduction and love, loyalty and duty.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Heart's Invisible Furies
    by John Boyne

    A sweeping, heartfelt saga set in Ireland from the author of The Boy In the Striped Pajamas.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Hame

Hame by Annalena McAfee

A rich, sultry novel about a young American fleeing a crumbling marriage for a remote Scottish island.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A F Out O W

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 books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.