The Executioner’s Heart

Written by George Mann
Review by Jane Steen

This novel is the fourth in a series of fantasy/steampunk adventures featuring detectives Sir Maurice Newbury and Veronica Hobbes. For the purposes of this review it is considered on its individual merits, but it draws heavily on events and world-building from the previous novels in the series, and the final chapter sets up the action for the next installment.

Overall I found this novel to be fast-paced and elegantly written. Some oddities of word choice (“…the hours drifting by in a warm, opium-inspired fugue…” “I hope you will forgive me for capitalising so much of Sir Charles’s time…”) and a tendency to paint rather imprecise details such as “strangely coloured liquids,” “occult symbols,” etc., detract somewhat from the flow of the action but are not completely out of place in a story with touches of the fairy tale and of 19th-century popular detective fiction.

I particularly relish the idea of Queen Victoria living past her due date as a villainess on artificial life support, and the repercussions for the Prince of Wales. A fun read for those looking for adventure on the fringes of historical fiction.