The Revenant Express by George Mann (A Newbury and Hobbes Investigation #5)

If readers weren't convinced we were reading some of the most interesting steampunk fiction around, they should be now. Sir Maurice Newbury's assistant, Veronica Hobbes is under threat of dying unless he goes with her sister, Amelia to St. Petersburg to get a clockwork heart from famed jeweller, Faberge - with this he hopes to save her life, but will this be enough to sustain her?

So far the casebooks of Newbury and Hobbes has got into its fifth book so steampunk readers can dig deep into one of its darkest stories yet. The Revenant Express continues from The Executioner’s Heart where this time Veronica's sister Amelia takes centre stage while Veronica is in a dire situation that risks her very life.

This is made more dire by Maurice looking to have lost weight from his previous ordeal in the last novel. Amelia is aware Maurice cares a great deal for Veronica, but she fears his health may worsen if he takes this new journey. Maurice is a strong person and while they investigate a series of murders, Maurice is convinced someone on board the train wants to do them harm. Amelia being as rational as always refuses to accept that anyone they come into contact with is a murderer. She might want to reconsider this train of thought later as a killer calling himself the Keeper has been observing the pair for some time intending to capture and kill Amelia as a form of revenge.

The Keeper is a sick and twisted fellow who wants to add Amelia to his collection and uses the Revenant on board as a means to divert suspicion away from his own evil intentions. This also means the Keeper can go about his business without either of them suspecting a thing. Maurice and Amelia are out of their comfort zone in this new Newbury and Hobbes novel, and are left wondering how the other half live in the squalid conditions of Victorian London where danger and death are never far away. Mann's story is sometimes gory in places but the gore is justified as it illustrates how a bloodthirsty killer uses the already ever hungry Revenants as scapegoats in a well crafted thriller with a few other captivating characters playing successful side roles in a riveting Steampunk adventure.

For Maurice and Amelia it is a problematic situation to be in as they are torn between finding the killer or getting the heart they need for Veronica. What I enjoyed about this particular story is the reason behind why some are better at sleuthing than others, or are more robust for it. Maurice is suited to hunting Revenant's as he was exposed to the virus when he was in India, so he can sleuth in relative ease.

8/10 If readers weren't convinced we were reading some of the most interesting steampunk fiction around, they should be now.

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