Hodder, Mark -- The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack [e-book purchase]

Somebody else's attempt at Victorian-punk. This starts with a lurch: we find Sir Richard Francis Burton, the man himself, considering his last few years of source-of-the-Nile-ing. A great deal of detail is dumped out, which sent me scurrying to Wikipedia to make sure it was all legitimate history -- it was.

Then Burton takes a ride on London's pneumatic train and talks to a bioengineered messenger parakeet. So, not so legitimate.

Turns out somebody assassinated Queen Victoria in 1840, scientific advances are springing up everywhere like pubescent weeds, and history has gone seriously askew. The author underlines this by having a time traveller pop up -- not Wells's, this traveller has jumping boots -- screaming something about history being all askew, and it's all Burton's fault. Plot commences.

I don't know. The author has clearly done vast research into the Spring-Heel Jack legend, and has constructed a plot to make it all Make Sense. Plus the werewolves of London, the aforementioned 1840 assassination plot, and more. But where The Anubis Gates pulled the trick effortlessly, this book clunks and strains. Furthermore: it makes Burton boring. This should be impossible. Giving him Algernon Swinburne as a sidekick doesn't help; I wanted him offstage every moment he was on. (Superpowers: whingeing, laudanum, getting off on being beaten.) I didn't like the explanation for the boots either.

Ambitious, did not work for me, oh well.

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