The Executioner's Heart by George Mann
When Charles Bainbridge, Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard, is called to the scene of the third murder in quick succession where the victim’s chest has been cracked open and their heart torn out, he sends for supernatural specialist Sir Maurice Newbury and his determined assistant, Miss Veronica Hobbes. The two detectives discover that the killings may be the work of a mercenary known as The Executioner. French, uncannily beautiful, her flesh covered in tattoos and inlaid with precious metals, the Executioner is famed throughout Europe. But her heart is damaged, leaving her an emotionless shell, inexplicably driven to collect her victim’s hearts as trophies. Newbury and Hobbes confront many strange and pressing mysteries on the way to unearthing the secret of the Executioner’s Heart.
The fourth book in the Newbury and Hobbes series by George Mann, The Executioner’s Heart sees the detective duo of Veronica Hobbes and Maurice Newbury get caught up in a murder hunt for a mysterious and ageless assassin called The Executioner, who removes the hearts from each of her victims. With the killings seemingly occurring at random the half-living, half-dead Queen Victoria – kept alive only through the use of a monstrous piece of machinery which keeps her heart beating – has demanded that Scotland Yard and Newbury find out who is killing these people and why.
Victorian London is given a steampunk gloss as Newbury and Hobbes career through rain-swept streets, examining horribly mutilated bodies and battling strange beasts, foreign agents, and trying to find The Executioner before she finds them. The plot rattles along and a real strength is the horror, with Queen Victoria turned into a grotesque, scheming semi-automaton and The Executioner’s dead shrivelled heart still visible in her chest as clockwork machinery and supernatural forces keep her alive. Typical steampunk themes are brought in – there’s a giant airship hovering over a public exhibition of mechanical wonders at one point and various clockwork contraptions appear throughout, but it’s done with a certain subtlety – no steam-powered crossbows come rocketing out of corsets. This edges Victorian London into a slightly alternate universe, which may not go far enough for some people who really like that sort of thing; focusing more on the murderess and her motivation and the personal and power relationships between characters.
Veronica Hobbes and Sir Maurice Newbury are assisting Scotland Yard's Chief Inspector, Charles Bainbridge, in unearthing the connection between the murderess' victims. Veronica is a strong young woman who knows her own mind and makes an interesting focus as she decides to undertake some exploration of her own, whilst Newbury is a far darker and grittier character who has a strong interest in magic and arcane ritual - employing unorthodox methods such as deliberately cultivating an opium habit in order to do what needs to be done. I personally find the more unusual Newbury a more interesting character than Veronica but they work well both together and separately.
I liked the plot and thought it unfolded at a good pace with some nice action set-pieces, but I personally would have preferred it to be slightly more elaborate to give it more weight – the characters seemed to spend a lot of time visiting one another rather than unearthing clues or questioning people and I didn’t really get a strong impression of the world outside of the various residences the characters frequented. This is also very much one of a series so because I haven’t read any of the previous books, there were quite often mentions of past events and people turned up who the characters knew from previously, but who I as a reader hadn’t met, which meant I was a bit less invested in the characters than I might have been. The ending, for example, leads directly to the next book due out next year, which means that if you read that without reading this one, you’re going to miss out on some of the plot. You can read this by itself and it mostly makes sense, but you would get the most out of it by starting with The Affinity Bridge, the first novel in the series.
Overall this is a quick, fun read with a good level of gore and intrigue and a background of hissing machinery that should appeal to both historical crime and steampunk fantasy fans.
If you're looking for reviewers that loved The Executioner's Heart then check out these 2 reviews:
This The Executioner's Heart book review was written by Cat Fitzpatrick
All reviews for: A Newbury and Hobbes Investigation
The Affinity Bridge
A Newbury and Hobbes Investigation #1
Welcome to the bizarre and dangerous world of Victorian London. Airships soar in the skies, whilst ground trains rumble through the streets. But beneath this shiny veneer o...
The Osiris Ritual
A Newbury and Hobbes Investigation #2
Death stalks London and the newspapers proclaim that a mummy's curse has been unleashed. Sir Maurice Newbury is drawn into a web of occult intrigue as he attempts to so...
The Executioner's Heart
A Newbury and Hobbes Investigation #4
When Charles Bainbridge, Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard, is called to the scene of the third murder in quick succession where the victim’s chest has been cracked op...
Have you read The Executioner's Heart?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
The Executioner's Heart reader reviews
7.5/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
Perdido Street Station
The metropolis of New Crobuzon sprawls at the centre of its own bewildering world. Humans and mutants and arcane races throng the gloom beneath its chimneys, where the rive...
The Anubis Gates
Brendan Doyle is a twentieth-century English professor who travels back to 1810 London to attend a lecture given by English romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This is a...
The City and the City
When the body of a murdered woman is found in the extraordinary, decaying city of Besźel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks like a routine case for Inspector T...
The Difference Engine
William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
The computer age has arrived a century ahead of time with Charles Babbage's perfection of his Analytical Engine. The Industrial Revolution, supercharged by the developm...
A colossal fantasy of incredible diversity and spellbinding imagination. A human cargo bound for servitude in exile... A pirate city hauled across the oceans... A hidden mi...
The Aeronaut's Windlass
Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have rule...
It is a time of revolts and revolutions, conflict and intrigue. New Crobuzon is being ripped apart from without and within. War with the shadowy city-state of Tesh and riot...
The Mensch with No Name
Edward M Erdelac
The Merkabah Rider continues his journey across the American Southwest of 1880 in search of the renegade teacher who destroyed his mystic Jewish order in the second volume ...
The Shadow Conspiracy
1816, the year without a summer. A group of geniuses descended on Geneva and, in an attempt to save the body and mind of Lord Byron, perform dreadful and forbidden experime...
The Weavers of Saramyr
An evil that comes from within the empire's centre, a sect of magicians close to the throne intent on killing any child born with magical powers. But now the empress ha...
The Rise of the Automated Aristocrats
Sir Richard Francis Burton's expedition has returned from the future, bringing with it knowledge of technologies that must remain secret if history is to proceed as it ...
A young clockmaker's apprentice, who is visited by the Archangel Gabriel. He is told that he must take the Key Perilous and rewind the Mainspring of the Earth. It is ru...
The Good, the Bad and the Infernal
One day every hundred years, a town appears, its location and character different every time. It is home to the greatest miracle a man could imagine: a doorway to Heaven it...
The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man
A clockwork man is abandoned in Trafalgar Square. A ghost displays a craving for diamonds. A lost aristocrat returns ten years after being lost at sea and instigates riots ...
Sea of Ghosts
When the last of the Gravediggers, an elite imperial infiltration unit, are disbanded and hunted down by the emperor they once served, munitions expert Colonel Thomas Grang...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Best of 2016
Journey to the Black City
On an Earth that is very much like our own, the civilizations of ancient man have been crushed; the giant glaciers that cover the northern part of the globe continue, even now...
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
A corrupted city. A dark dream of power. Luke is a prisoner, condemned for a murder he didn’t commit. Abi is a fugitive, desperate to free him before magic breaks his mind. But as the Jardines tighten their grip on a turbulent Britain, brother and sister face a fight greater than their own. New alliances and old feuds will remake the natio...
The Fifth Empire of Man
Rob J Hayes
The Pirate Isles are united under Drake Morrass’ flag, but the war has only just begun. There’s still a long way to go before he’s able to call himself Ki...
Ian C Esslemont
After the disappointments of Li Heng, Dancer and Kellanved wash up on a small insignificant island named Malaz. Immediately, of course, Kellanved plans to take it over. To ...
Age of Swords
Michael J Sullivan
Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhunes make it all but impossible to unite against the co...
A Time of Dread
The Ben-Elim, a race of warrior angels, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands. But their dominion is brutally enforced and their ancient en...
The Last Dog on Earth
Adrian J Walker
Every dog has its day... And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can...
The Shadow Crucible
Taking humanity back to their primordial beliefs and fears, Estella confronts Mikhail’s faith by revealing the true horror of the lucrative trade in human souls. All ...