From its Jon Sullivan cover art to its mind-boggling finale, The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man brings back Mark Hodder’s unlikely detective duo of Sir Richard Francis Burton, in the waning years of his exploring career and now a King’s Agent, and Algernon Charles Swinburne, the small flame-haired poet with a taste for alcohol and some occasional bondage.
In writings and interviews, author Hodder has said he wanted to keep the “punk” in steampunk, and after the inventive first book in the series, The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack, it was hard to imagine anything matching its clever blend of technological invention, topsy-turvy history and social awareness. (Just wait till you read about the carrier parrot system–which works great except the parrots have potty-mouth–LOL.)
Hodder’s steampunk isn’t technology in a vacuum. It has consequences, from the miasma of London’s smoky air to the wildly divergent lifestyles of its class system. (And for those who didn’t read Spring-Heeled Jack, it isn’t necessary to read this one as this book is self-contained except for the presence of the main characters.)
I’m pleased to say Clockwork Man meets up to my expectations, taking another famous British mystery–the Tichborne Claimant–and turning it on its ear while Burton and Swinburne encounter haunted mansions, madhouses, and another assortment of famous people who, in this vastly different world of 1862 London, find their roles changed, from philosopher Herbert Spencer, now a homeless man, to Florence Nightingale.
Clockwork Man is a wild, funny ride of a read that I hated to see end. If you think you already know steampunk….you don’t.
Want to win an ARC of The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man? Just tell me what you think of steampunk–do you like it? Are you tired of it? Haven’t dipped your toe in that pool yet? Be sure to include your email. As always +1 entry for comment, +1 for blog follow, +1 for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and +1 for Tweet or Retweet. Drawing will take place very early Saturday morning, March 26. Happy reading!