“They both leaned in, watching the cogs and levers as they ticked over, minute switches flicking from one position to another as the automaton regarded its surroundings. It was like seeing human thought processes in action, like some sort of bizarre window into the human soul. In some ways, it was disturbing, to see a creation so complex and wondrous yet without feeling, lacking the spark of life.” (page 100)
I’m always on the lookout for a good mystery series and when I saw The Affinity Bridge by George Mann at a Half Price Books clearance sale two years ago I decided to give it a try. I had read a few steampunk books before so I was interested to see how this one would turn out.
The Affinity Bridge is the first book in the Newbury & Hobbes Investigation series. Sir Maurice Newbury, an agent of Queen Victoria, and his assistant Miss Veronica Hobbs are called on to investigate crimes that may have a supernatural element to them or cases that are weird enough that the police need a little extra help in solving them. The Affinity Bridge starts with Newbury & Hobbs investigating several murders that are reported to have been committed by a glowing policeman but they are quickly pulled off the case when an airship, The Lady Armitage, crashes killing everyone on board. And to complicate the matter the automaton pilot is missing.
“Carriages and hansom cabs were arriving and departing in a constant stream, depositing guests on the gravelled driveway at the foot of a large flight of stone steps. Visitors dressed in their best finery flowed up these steps, disappearing into the grand entranceway as if it were the maw of some ancient famished beast.” (page 176)
While I couldn’t say this is one of the best mysteries I’ve read, there is a lot to like about. I think the characters are great and the time period it’s set in is definitely a positive. The plot kept me interested till the end and I liked it enough that I’ve read the next two books in the series.
From The Cover: Welcome to the bizarre and dangerous world of Victorian London, a city teetering on the edge of revolution. Its people are ushering in a new era of technology, dazzled each day by unfamiliar inventions. Airships soar in the skies over the city whilst ground trains rumble through the streets. Clockwork automatons are programmed to carry out menial tasks in the offices of lawyers, policemen, and journalists.
But beneath this shiny veneer of progress lurks a sinister side. Queen Victoria is kept alive by a primitive life-support system, while her agents, Sir Maurice Newbury and his unflappable assistan, Miss Veronica Hobbs, do battle with enemies of the crown both physical and supernatural. Now Newbury and Hobbs must investigate the wreckage of a crashed airship and its missing automaton pilot, whilst already attempting to solve a string of strangulations attributed to a mysterious glowing policeman and a zombie plague that is ravaging the slums of the capital.
Just One More Thing: “The wind was howling against the chimney stacks, and a confusing web of ropes strained against the pull of the bobbing airships, which filled the sky overhead like a blanket of glittering clouds.” (page 296)
This Edition: Paperback published by Tor (2010)
Other Books In The Series: The Osiris Ritual, The Immorality Engine, The Executioner’s Heart, The Revenant Express (will be released next year), The Casebook Of Newbury & Hobbs (short story collection)
You Might Also Like: The Charles Lenox Mysteries by Charles Finch