The Dead Assassin

Written by Vaughn Entwistle
Review by Anne Clinard Barnhill

This novel is set in Victorian London, amidst the fog and industrial machines of the day. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, doctor and author of the famous Sherlock Holmes stories, along with his friend, playwright Oscar Wilde, is summoned by Scotland Yard to help with a gruesome series of murders. A witness to the first of these murders identifies the murderer as Charlie Higginbotham. Case easily solved.

Except that Charlie Higginbotham had been hanged two weeks before the murder he supposedly committed. Following leads ranging from ominous toymakers to flamboyant aristocrats, Doyle and Wilde discover nothing less than a plot to overthrow the British government, assassinate Queen Victoria herself and stir the country into complete chaos. And, much to their horror, they also stumble upon someone who has the skill to reanimate the dead, a skill which requires a ritual sacrifice.

In a novel that’s part steampunk, part Victorian, part mystery and part supernatural, Entwistle weaves these genres into a hybrid. And, like the steam engines and gears and shafts that permeate the story, somehow the disparate parts work together to produce an intriguing work.