Review: The Executioner's Heart/ Author: George Mann / Publisher: Titan Books / Release Date: Out Now
The Executioner’s Heart is the latest installment of the Newbury and Hobbes novels, and continues the adventures of Queen Victoria’s elite investigator Sir Maurice Newbury, the thoroughly modern and entirely capable Veronica Hobbes and the long suffering Chief Inspector Bainbridge. The plot involves a murderer on the streets of London, who is leaving mutilated corpses in their wake. Add into the mix divided loyalties and hidden schemes and what we have here is the sort of romp sure to delight your average Sherlock Holmes fan.
This is quintessential steampunk; we have artificially enhanced royalty, mechanical organs, strange science and plenty of supernatural oddness. Mann writes in an easy, flowing style that makes this a highly enjoyable pulp adventure. The pace is steady, getting louder as the stakes are raised. Those familiar with the series will be delighted to discover that more depth is added to the protagonists and the world is further expanded. Conspiracies deepen and revelations are uncovered. Casual steampunk fans or those looking for some Victorian era detective dramas are also well served here; The Executioner’s Heart works as a standalone book, though obviously it contains spoilers for previous novels.
Mann also excels at teasing the reader; those expecting a by-the-numbers steampunk adventure will find themselves engrossed by various twists, some of which are subtle enough to catch even the most genre-savvy geek out. Newbury and Hobbes novels are popular because they are thrilling reads told in an exciting way; and The Executioner’s Heart continues in this fine tradition.