Sunday, August 30, 2009

Book Review


The Affinity Bridge: A Review
The Affinity Bridge is a novel by George Mann, set in an alternative London in 1901. Queen Victoria’s life has been preserved by the use of a clock-work respirator, airships fill the skies, and steam powered hansoms careen along the cobbles. This is the steam-punk world Mann gives us.
Enter Sir Maurice Newberry, an agent in Her Majesty’s Service. He is part Sherlock Holmes, part Indiana Jones, and part John Steed. He is the very image of proper English gentry, with the prerequisite dark secrets. (In his case laudanum addiction, and a practitioner of the arcane arts.) He has a female partner, Veronica Hobbes, that is part Emma Peel and not Watson-like in any respect, except for her dependability and willingness to jump into the fray.
The plot consists of intertwined events surrounding a zombie plague in the East End, a zeppelin crash with a young Royal on board, a ghostly blue faced police man murdering random people by strangulation, and the disappearance of Sir Maurice' secretary's brother, Jack Coulthard.
The zombies are actually called plague revenants, they are disease induced: infected with a virus that rots their flesh, makes them impervious to all but the most devastating of wounds, and gives the victim a ravenous, bestial hunger for human flesh before they burn themselves out when the virus turns their brain to goo. So…zombies but with new, inventive trappings.
The story ranges from the East Side to a well fleshed out air ship construction yard owned by Chapman and Villiars, central players in the drama, who also dabble in the construction of automatons: clock-work men. From the back rooms of gentlemen clubs to the inner sanctum of Queen Victoria, The Affinity Bridge touches on many of the aspects that make foggy old London a very cool, very pulp setting.
That is what is great about The Affinity Bridge, the familiar trappings of steam punk and gas light action, but giving them just enough of a twist and new flavor to make them fresh. Sir Maurice and Miss Hobbes are written with convincing chemistry and well fleshed out, each with their own motives and desires. Though I think Mr. Mann cheated a little bit with Miss Hobbes by not showing all her cards.
The story is well paced, the case laid before the reader logically, allowing them to see the mystery unravel, unlike Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle's detective, who played it close to the vest with Watson and the reader. The action is the stuff of Saturday Matinees: daring do, near misses, cliff hanger delights, and heroic confrontations. You can almost see the action on the silver screen, either in black and white or Technicolor, though black and white is always creepier…..
Overall I found The Affinity Bridge to be fun and enjoyable reading. My only complaints about the story were some of the repetitiveness of the very daring that I enjoyed and what I felt were missed opportunities in story telling and fleshing out the very world being presented. Though it read well, I felt as if Mr. Mann had to make his story fit in a certain page count/word count for the publisher.
These a very minor complaints when the story is taken as a whole and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is a lover of pulp, Sherlock Holmes, or the gas light mystery, with all the steam punk goodness mixed in. 3 out of 4 stars for me. It didn't blow me away, but The Affinity Bridge was a great bit of entertainment that held my interest so that I burned through the book in a couple of sittings.

2 comments:

  1. Great review, Cap! You should link to the book so I could go buy it! :D

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