The Dead Assassin is the second book by extremely talented author Vaughn Entwistle. I stumbled upon his first paranormal casebook 'The Revenant of Thraxton Hall' last year and so completely loved it that I have gushed about it ever since. So I'm sure you can imagine my complete and utter delight when Vaughn Entwistle sent me an advance copy of his new book The Dead Assassin- the level of excitement went somewhere between a squeal of sheer delight and a happy dance....
The book follows Arthur Conan Doyle (author of Sherlock Holmes) and his trusty sidekick Oscar Wilde as they investigate a string of gruesome murders in London linked to the 'Fog Committee'. This second installment in the series is a lot darker than The Revenant of Thraxton Hall, but I found it just as enjoyable. The book starts with Arthur Conan Doyle enjoying dinner with a beautiful woman, only to be interrupted by a young detective who seeks his help after discovering a gruesome murder. Things get even murkier when it appears the 'assassin' is the walking dead. Instantly, the book had me intrigued and as they saying goes, 'the game was afoot'.
In the first book, my favourite character was Oscar Wilde- he was outlandish, flamboyant, hilarious and extremely lovable. Nothing has changed in the second installment. Oscar Wilde remains my favourite side kick in any novel, and is responsible for some of my favourite lines in The Dead Assassin, including:
"Wilde squinted doubtfully at the newspaper. "A Fog Committee?" he echoed, and choked an ironic laugh. "Forming a committee is always the best possible way to achieve the minimum in the maximum time. Even the spelling is redundant: two m's, two t's, and two e's. Why not save labor and spell it c-o-m-i-t-e? It would save precious ink and be equally ineffectual. Really, what would the world have gained if the English had not had such a spendthrift attitude to consonants?"
"I read the first sentence. It contained a semicolon. I could read no further. The semicolon is unquestionably the ugliest piece of punctuation in the English language. It is neither a full stop nor comma, and as such a mongrel construction. Furthermore, no one from Jonson forward can agree upon its use. I ceased reading. Such an early appearance of a semicolon did not portend for a pleasant read."
Oscar Wilde helped to lift the mood just when things were getting rather grim for the pair and I would consider him completely indispensable to the story. Arthur Conan Doyle is a thoroughly likable main character and I think it is testament to Vaughn Entwistle as an author that he is able to create such animated characters from real-life people.
In this novel, London could almost be considered a character of it's own and Vaughn has done a fantastic job in the detail of Victorian London. The fog plays a massive role in the setting for the novel and I loved the descriptive words that he used to set the scene. I read the book on a particularly chilly and bleak Edinburgh evening and he did such a good job setting the scene that I felt caught up in the London fog too.
The book is full of suspense and mystery. I would love to discuss the plot in depth here, but I don't want to spoil a single second of the book for anyone else. All I will say is that the plot involves Queen Victoria, assassinations, an uprising, a toy maker and a kidnap- put simple, the plot is genius!
I devoured this book and could barely stand to put it down. It is another fine piece of work from Vaughn Entwistle, who in my opinion deserves more recognition for these books. I'll now be raving about 2 books by this author, and think that you should all go out and buy them immediately.
Visit Vaughn Entwistle's website for more information about his books
Buy The Revenant of Thraxton Hall and The Dead Assassin from Amazon
Check out my interview with Vaughn Entwistle