Friday, March 17, 2023

Heart of the Nile - Barker & Llewelyn #14



Heart of the Nile is the 14th Barker & Llewelyn Victorian historical mystery by Will Thomas. Released 11th April 2023 by Macmillan on their Minotaur imprint, it's 320 pages and will be available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

This is a well established series and the characters are quite finely drawn in a well written whole. The background research is impressive and the descriptions really do call up Victorian London. The story is fictionalized but written around a real historical framework and intertwined so skillfully that it's not always easy to tell where real history shades over into fiction. 

The denouement and resolution are well done and satisfying. My only quibble (and it's a fairly minor one) is that the dialogue feels anachronistic in some places. It isn't clunky or awkward, but there is some modern vernacular and a most egalitarian (and non-period) mixing of social classes. The mystery itself is quite convoluted and the climax and denouement were full of twists I hadn't foreseen. 

I enjoyed the inclusion of archaeology, Egyptology, and the British Museum especially. The eccentric and intellectual staff and hangers-on were compassionately done and not at all sarcastically or cruelly written. There are some moderately graphic descriptions of blood and violence included, so readers who are very sensitive to bloodshed should be aware. All in all it's a very well written and engaging historical mystery. 

The unabridged audiobook has a run time of 9 hours 59 minutes and is superbly narrated by Antony Ferguson. He has a rich baritone voice and the quick switches in dialogue from Barker's brogue to east London Cockney thugs without a wobble is a thing of beauty. The sound and production quality is high throughout the recording.

The books are self contained stand-alones, so it's not necessary to have read the books in order to understand what's going on. 

High quality historical mystery. Four and a half stars. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.


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