The Colours of Corruption
The Colours of Corruption’s cover is suggestive of the atmosphere the author means to evoke, in a palette of murky greens and ochre: the seedy underground of Victorian London. A painter named Archie helps out the police by providing his artistic skills to make sketches of wanted criminals. Talking with witnesses is part of his job, and so it happens that he comes in contact with his ideal model, Mary, a witness to a crime. However Mary’s past is dubious, and she unwillingly becomes the prey in a dark game of forced prostitution and other illegal trades. Archie tries to help her, and in fact gets the both of them deeper in trouble.
The story moves fast among crimes of greed and lust and a gallery of typical if colourful characters and villains, providing several turning points. There’s an abundance and variety of details demonstrating the author’s research of the period, about art in particular, and an anxiety to convey the innovations appearing in many fields at the time. This can at times overwhelm the reader with descriptive passages, whereas a subtler touch would have made the narrative more natural and less informational. An experienced reader might be taken aback by the contemporary sensibility uniformly displayed by the characters, but readers looking for a fast-paced, colourful, well-planned story with no loose ends should enjoy this book.