Summary and book reviews of The Darwin Affair by Tim Mason

The Darwin Affair

by Tim Mason

The Darwin Affair by Tim Mason X
The Darwin Affair by Tim Mason
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2019, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2020, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Tara Mcnabb
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About this Book

Book Summary

Get ready for one of the most inventive and entertaining novels of 2019—an edge-of-your-seat Victorian-era thriller, where the controversial publication of On the Origin of Species sets off a string of unspeakable crimes.

"Keep clear of his blade!" he cried. "Once cut, always kept!"

LONDON, JUNE 1860: When an assassination attempt is made on Queen Victoria, and a petty thief is gruesomely murdered moments later—and only a block away—Chief Detective Inspector Charles Field quickly surmises that these crimes are connected to an even more sinister plot. Was Victoria really the assassin's target? Are those closest to the Crown hiding something? And who is this shadowy figure witnesses describe as having lifeless, coal-black eyes? Soon, Field's investigation exposes a shocking conspiracy in which the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species sets off a string of murders, arson, kidnapping, and the pursuit of a diabolical madman named the Chorister. As the investigation takes Field from the dangerous alleyways of London to the hallowed halls of Oxford, the list of possible conspirators grows as the body count escalates. And as he edges closer to the Chorister, he uncovers dark secrets that were meant to remain forever hidden.

With ingenuity, intelligence, and wit, debut novelist Tim Mason has created a powerfully entertaining thriller. For fans of Caleb Carr and Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Darwin Affair is a rousing page-turner that both Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would relish and envy.

Excerpt
Darwin Affair

The heat moved like a feral thing through the streets, fetid and inescapable. Chief Detective Inspector Charles Field, sweating in his shiny black greatcoat, ducked into the shadowed portico of a house near St. Albans Street, just bordering the Mall. Because of the view it offered, as well as the protection from the elements, it was the spot he invariably used to monitor royal processions along this stretch. The horses pulling the royal carriage plodded solemnly, resignedly, their tails flicking at the flies. Victoria and Albert, their faces glimpsed within the open coach, had a wilted look, but they seemed to be conversing nevertheless. Today, given the heat and the mundane nature of Her Majesty's errand (she and the Prince Consort were to open a public bath in the West End), the crowd was understand-ably thin. But because the Queen already had survived several attempts on her life, the royal coach was accompanied by a couple of the Horse Guard. A few police ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Expertly written, the book successfully leads readers down a dark path of mystery, only to pull the rug out, leaving us shaken to the very core. The phenomenal and unexpected twist at the end is a reminder of the staying power of a great villain, one that is worth remembering long after the final page. With gripping dialogue, swift pacing and a fascinating premise, The Darwin Affair is a captivating hybrid of thriller and historical fiction...continued

Full Review (588 words).

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(Reviewed by Tara Mcnabb).

Media Reviews

New York Journal of Books
While Mason’s myriad characters are almost too many to follow, a careful reading of the story unfolds the underpinnings of a good plot...Mason does an excellent job of leaving the reader wondering if justice was really served...if one can get through the first 200 pages of a multitude of characters moving back and forth and stretching the limits of the story, the ending is solid and will leave the reader looking back on the entire reading experience with satisfaction.

Shelf Awareness
Readers of historical fiction, murder mysteries, action/adventure and thrillers will be equally entertained and perhaps edified: beneath the excitement lie thought-provoking questions about class and order, the interplay of science and religion and intellectual curiosity. The Darwin Affair has it all: thrills, engrossing characters, taut pacing and historical interest.

Reader's Digest
A perfect addition to your summer reading list. Fast-paced and lively, this page-turner would appeal to fans of Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The Wall Street Journal
London in 1860 is the principal setting of Tim Mason’s The Darwin Affair, which evokes the pleasures of such period authors as Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle and Charles Dickens. [A] memorable page-turner. Intellectually stimulating and viscerally exciting, The Darwin Affair is breathtaking from start to stop.

Kirkus Reviews
Careful research, a driving plot, wry wit, and compelling characters make this a most entertaining read.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
[A]n audacious historical thriller...Wry prose and vivid period detail help make Mason's speculations feel plausible.

Booklist (starred review)
Mason’s Dickensian London, layered with gritty, horror-tinged period details and the imaginative interweaving of Typhoid Mary and the underworld’s grave-robbing industry, provides a rare time-traveling experience for historical-mystery readers. The novel shares the edgy appeal of Caleb Carr’s The Alienist and Louis Bayard’s Mr. Timothy.

Author Blurb Louis Bayard, author of Courting Mr. Lincoln
This clever, yeasty detective yarn is like a runaway hansom cab that pauses just long enough to take on passengers ranging from Darwin to Dickens before hurtling onward. It's a grand ride, a serious education and a delightful addiction.

Reader Reviews

Celia K Phillips

Victorian England At Its Scariest
London in 1860 is the principal setting of Tim Mason's The Darwin Affair. I really enjoyed this book about a detective in 1860's London who was tracking a very heinous villain - Artemis Cobb. Artemis had a serious problem with Charles Darwin and ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The Controversy Surrounding On the Origin of Species

Biologist and anthropologist Thomas HuxleyThe publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species forever changed the way humankind thought of themselves and their place in the world. Almost immediately, the public took sides; you were either pro-evolution or anti-evolution. This caused considerable strife between notable public figures at the time, and also resulted in heated debates at home. While the atheists were some of Darwin's most passionate supporters, other defenders came in the surprising form of liberal Anglicans who believed that natural selection was an elegant example of God's handiwork. Thomas Huxley, the English biologist and anthropologist, is perhaps Darwin's most famous public supporter. He was so aggressive during arguments and debates that he came to be ...

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