The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man by Mark Hodder (Burton and Swinburne)

Sir Richard Francis Burton is the ‘King’s Agent’ in 1861 England. Lord Palmerston is Prime Minister and it is an exciting time of technology and genetically engineered creatures/machines.

This is the second novel featuring Hodder’s crime-fighting duo, Burton and Swinburne (a seasoned adventurer and a diminutive red-headed poet). Both Burton and Swinburne (and a whole host of supporting characters (including  Oliver Wilde, Charles Darwin and Florence Nightingale) are alternative versions of the historical figures, adapted for this new Steampunk version of England in 1861.

Having already won the Philip K Dick Award in 2010 for the first novel in the series, Hodder goes on to produce a really solid crime mystery full of weirdness and fantastical inventions.

The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man is based on some historical and popular events at the time that the story is set. Burton is to investigate a mysterious claimant to the Tichborne family estate. The strange claimant reappears causing chaos not only for the Tichborne family but also setting in place a course of events that leaves London in chaos with riots in the streets and mist spirits running wild. I think the strength of Hodder’s writing and this particular series is the adaptation of historical events and characters in particular.

This is a riotous novel (pun intended) with a great story behind it that keeps the pace going. The character development of Burton is strong and we are taken back to previous events in his life to explain what has shaped him in to the man he is in the story.

Hodder’s second novel in this series is certainly a page tuner, I would never normally rush to read a Steampunk style story but I am certainly now a convert and look forward to moving on to Hodder’s next book in the series. I hope the sequel comes up trumps and features more tame swans as transportation, centipede buses and clockwork men.

9/10 A riotous novel with a great story behind it that keeps the pace going.

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