Sunday, 10 July 2016
STEAMPUNK REVIEW: THE IMMORALITY ENGINE BY GEORGE MANN
The Immorality Engine by George Mann
Sir Maurice Newbury is Queen Victoria's secret weapon in the fight against crime on the foggy streets of London. While in the Affinity Bridge, Newbury and Hobbes investigated a crashed airship, in The Osiris Ritual a mummy is revealed to possibly have been murdered, making others think of it as a curse and now this is hailed as being their "hardest and darkest investigation to date."
In the previous novel, Newbury had dabbled more and more with laudanum and opium, here, Bainbridge of Scotland Yard and Hobbes have to drag him from Johnny Chang's opium den to investigate the murder of a well known burglar who had already, by the looks of him committed a murder. Like Watson needing Holmes, both Bainbridge and Hobbes need Newbury to help solve the case. The dead man's body was found on Shaftsbury Avenue with no cause of death, but Bainbridge had noticed that something about the body didn't add up. The body is that of a notorious London burglar, yet there is one slight problem, the man's been dead for two days so either there's a copycat, or something too horrible to imagine.
Bainbridge and Hobbes might need Newbury , but after his housekeeper has left him, his house has taken on the look of chaos. Hobbes is the most annoyed and disappointed with him and hopes she and Bainbridge can get him off the opium and make him the man they have known before. Newbury is a man who at the moment can't look after himself and who, Hobbes notices has occult artefacts in his house that must have frightened his housekeeper a great deal: a hand of glory being one of them. As he has to deal with his addiction and getting his life back to some kind of normality, Hobbes hopes that Amelia will get better. The two of them and Bainbridge are close to finding the answers behind the burglaries when they also discover a mechanical spider that has been created to allow it to pick the locks of homes the thief finds are of interest. Only Newbury has an inkling of what it does, but they I imagine Newbury knows a great deal more than he lets on. And with the likelihood there are more spiders around could mean that there is the possibility there is a criminal network of jewel thieves in the area.
One of the more interesting finds are that there's more than one identical thief, not a twin, but a created person made to look like Sykes in every way. So I could imagine that as there are several spiders, there could easily be more than one Sykes. For a much darker story and deeper looks into the main characters, this is the one that ticks all the boxes with me. Hobbes gets Newbury back on his feet and proves to us she is a special kind of woman, the sort who isn't afraid to see her friend and companion as he really is, the burglars could be the work of a crazed man working against the queen, and the connection goes far deeper than just the criminal underworld, maybe closer than they think. The Immorality Engine, like The Osiris Ritual is the sort of book you can't put down when you see all the clues and have to try and work them out.