Monday, 29 July 2013

Early Review: Lawless and the Devil of Euston Square

Lawless and the Devil of Euston Square
William Sutton

Publisher: Exhibit A - To be Released on 30th July 2013

E-Arc Courtesy of Netgalley and Angry Robot

London 1859-62. A time of great exhibitions, foreign conquests and underground trains. But the era of Victorian marvels is also the time of the Great Stink. With cholera and depravity never far from the headlines, it’s not only the sewers that smell bad.
Novice detective, Campbell Lawless, stumbles onto the trail of Berwick Skelton, an elusive revolutionary, seemingly determined to bring London to its knees through a series of devilish acts of terrorism. But cast into a lethal, intoxicating world of music hall hoofers, industrial sabotage and royal scandal, will Lawless survive long enough to capture this underworld nemesis, before he unleashes his final vengeance on a society he wants wiped from the face of the Earth?

Imagine living in a time when technology changes almost daily and what seemed wonderous quickly becomes mundane, a time when politicians only look after themselves and their cronies leaving the ordinary people to fend for themselves. Okay, so some things haven’t changed much but when communication with others depending on actually seeing them or passing notes through urchins – no mobile phones, no landlines, no internet, no computers, no forensics but your own eyes and experience and then mix this early Victorian world with a crime that seems bafflingly complex and pointless. Where someone steals the inside of a clock workings, causes flooding in buildings across London, and breaks into houses only to leave a bone and take little of true value. This is the world that Lawless, a new sergeant at Scotland Yard finds himself in.

The story actually takes place over three years as little incidents build up to become one truly complicated case. I have to admit I was never less than intrigued by what was going on and what the purpose of it was. The world building effortlessly mixes real events like the Great Stink and the opening of the London Underground with new characters and historical to create a compelling world. Unfortunately the pacing was very slow – the long timeline while realistic seemed to rob the story of any urgency. It never really felt like there was a major threat to the city or individuals – someone who has that level of patience and ingenuity should really have ‘got over it’ after that amount of time.

Lawless is an interesting character – young and being inducted into the ways of Scotland by a well respected Inspector, but he discovers that even the watchers sometimes need watching. The librarian he starts to work with is a fantastic character – learned and book smart, she determines to help Lawless whether he wants her help or not. Adding to the character lists is an entrepreneur who is all confidence and little substance, Urchins trying to make a living on the streets, professional ‘Actresses’ and the workers’ rights movement.

The book has loads of potential and would look great in one of those Sunday evening dramas, but the slow pace meant it took me longer than normal to read and numbed my enjoyment a little. However, I would relish another visit to Lawless to see what he gets up to next!

Recommended for fans of Sherlock Holmes and Lynn Shepherd. 7 out of 10 


  1. I like the name "Lawless" but not my usual fair.

  2. Hm... not sure if it would rock with me either. The slow pace might turn me off. I'm still glad you enjoyed it.