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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Book Review: Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell

Murder as a Fine Art

Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell
E-Book (Kindle), 368 pages
Mulholland Books
May 7, 2013

Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller

Source: Received through Netgalley as part of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour


Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his memoir ‘Confessions of an English Opium-Eater,’is the major suspect in a series of ferocious mass murders identical to ones that terrorized London forty-three years earlier.

The blueprint for the killings seems to be De Quincey's essay ‘On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts.’ Desperate to clear his name but crippled by opium addiction, De Quincey is aided by his devoted daughter Emily and a pair of determined Scotland Yard detectives.
In Murder as a Fine Art,David Morrell plucks De Quincey, Victorian London, and the Ratcliffe Highway murders from history. Fogbound streets become a battleground between a literary star and a brilliant murderer, whose lives are linked by secrets long buried but never forgotten.”

This was one powerful novel. At every turn the reader is taken by surprise and the suspense keeps you moving on to that next page. You don’t know who the murderer is until the author wants you to know – I dare you to guess in advance and see if you are right!  The style very much reminds me of Dan Simmons in The Terror.

The point of view of this novel was interesting. You get both 3rd person omniscient, which is more of a rarity, as well as 1st person in the form of a series of journal entries. While I didn’t mind either the 3rd person omniscient or 1st person on its own, I didn’t really like them juxtaposed one after another. It didn’t seem like the segues between them made sense. If hard pressed, I would state that I didn’t find much value in the journal entries of Emily De Quincey. Her character seemed to be with the others who were being narrated about in the other sections and we didn’t learn anything new from these sections. According to an author’s note, this POV style was used in keeping with the styling of a Victorian sensation novel and in accordance with the time period and events transpiring in the novel, which I find admirable, however as this isn’t a style I’m used to, it was a little difficult to adapt to.

There were also some awkward areas where the novel seemingly turned into a non-fiction. The author would begin doing a lot more telling and a lot less showing. The things that he was choosing to explain I didn’t feel needed explaining necessarily; it felt jarring and unnecessary.

I do have to admit that I loved the characters. Detective Inspector Ryan and Constable Becker were my two favorites. I enjoyed learning about the early use of forensics within Scotland Yard as well as the understanding of medicine. These two men were quite admirable and were enjoyable to read about in every scene, especially when they were in them together. I wouldn’t mind seeing them in a series.

Author David Morrell has written many other books within the thriller/mystery category, but as far as I can tell, this is his first historical. You can visit his website for additional information about the book.

You can also watch the book trailer below:

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).

Murder as a Fine Art Virtual Tour FINAL2

You can follow along with the rest of the blog tour by visiting the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour site or on Twitter with the following hashtag: #MurderAsAFineArtTour.

Also, as part of the tour, I have a giveaway opportunity for one lucky person from the United States.  Simply make your entries in the Rafflecopter below before June 2nd to have a chance to win.  The giveaway is sponsored as part of the HFVBT tour for the book and will be mailed out by the publisher. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. I do enjoy a good suspense and I like the fact that the killer is hard to guess.

    1. I do too. Within historical novels you typically know the outcome before reading it - so this was a nice change of pace.

  2. I love a mystery that really is a mystery. Thanks for the giveaway.

  3. This sounds like a great book! Thanks for the giveaway!

  4. I think this sounds like a good book. Thank you for doing a review and giveaway on it.

  5. interesting...and good to know it has a Victorian feel to it. Those books to me need to be a certain way.

    1. I have only read a handful of books set in the Victorian time - but this exudes grittiness and you can really experience the time period. The setting was very well done.

  6. This looks so great! Thanks for sharing with us! I adore that cover as well.
    Books like this make me wonder whether the author had any influence from friends and family while writing it.
    Thanks for the giveaway!
    mestith at gmail dot com

  7. I love the dark and dangerous Victorian feel to this one...the cover is gorgeous too. These sort of suspenseful historicals always call to me when it is dark and stormy out :). Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

    1. The cover is very different from what we are used to seeing, but it very nicely brings out the feel of the book.

  8. This book sounds great and actually sounds like a group of interesting characters as well. I would love to win this, thanks for the giveaway.

  9. I've read a few reviews and yours is the first to comment that there are places that may be hard to follow due to the writing style. The book has intrigued me since I saw the cover and I would love to read it (even better to win a copy!). Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for hosting the giveaway.

    1. It wasn't necessarily hard to read, but I didn't feel like the specific things the author did in his writing style contributed anything to the book then way I think he intended it to.


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