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The Last Days of Newgate

de Andrew Pepper

Séries: Pyke Mystery (1)

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19410140,890 (3.11)1 / 5
A story of high intrigue and low politics, of brutal murder and cunning conspiracies, set against the backdrop of a fascinating period in British history and introducing an ingenious, pragmatic, and unforgettable hero. St. Giles, London, 1829--three people have been brutally murdered and the city simmers with anger and political unrest. Pyke, sometime Bow Street Runner, sometime crook, finds himself accidentally embroiled in the murder investigation but quickly realizes that he has stumbled into something more sinister and far-reaching. In his pursuit of the murderer Pyke ruffles the feathers of some powerful people, and, falsely accused of murder himself, he soon faces a death sentence and the gallows of Old Bailey. Imprisoned, and with only his uncle and the headstrong, aristocratic daughter of his greatest enemy who believe in him, Pyke must engineer his escape, find the real killer, and untangle the web of politics that has been spun around him.… (mais)
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The last days of Newgate rightfully earns a place as one of the better historical novels. There is a score of characters to keep track of and a wee bit of patience and reflection is needed to keep them on the inner movie screen. The novel is perhaps not for the casual reader, as it is a bit more complex than usual and puts historical realism over readability and sympathetic notions. The plot follows a murder mystery set in London during the Georgian era, its protagonist is a bow street runner (first policemen of London - I had to look that up ( )
  nitrolpost | Mar 19, 2024 |
'The Last Days of Newgate' is first in the Pyke series of books. It is 1829 and William IV is on the throne. Pyke is a Bow Street Runner. Sir Robert Peel is the Home Secretary and is proposing two controversial measures, the establishment of a regular Police Force, and Catholic Emancipation. Should the Police Reform Bill be passed then the Bow Street Runners will be disbanded.

When a young Irish couple, one Catholic, one Protestant, along with their newborn baby are brutally murdered sectarian violence flares in the city so Pyke sets out to discover their killer but soon realises that powerful and influential men may be complicit in the deaths.

This is a potent mix of sectarian politics and raw violence. Pyke is a man of contradictions with a curious set of morals. He owns a seedy gin palace, attends the opera with the wealthy and bear baiting with the poor, he is a sometime private investigator for the wealthy and sometime thief taker; he foments civil rebellion without any qualms for the participants, is sometime thief and a casual killer if they suit his purpose.

When I was at school many, many, many years ago we were taught British history from the end of the Napoleonic War until the beginning of WWI and therefore studied many of the issues covered by this novel. Consequently it was rather nice to be reminded of this period of history: Police Reform, Catholic Emancipation, rotten boroughs, the practice of paying the Church tithes and the Poor Law to name a few. I could almost smell the gutters and poverty; feel the depravity and despair of the poorer inhabitants of pre-Victorian London but felt there were also parts of the plot that simply weren't credible and the ending rather rushed.

Overall I found this a quick and easy read without being anything special but I also found Pyke an interesting character and would be willing to see just how he develops. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Jan 14, 2022 |
Oh, I enjoyed this! Well written thriller set in London in 1829 against the background of the setting up of the metropolitan police, with a thoroughly amoral protagonist, who is nevertheless extremely engaging. Lots of gore. ( )
  Only2rs | Feb 2, 2018 |
Historical thriller/crime writing. Not bad: I did finish it, - but not great either. I did not feel any empathy for the "hero" Pyke, and the political aspect of the book seemed very far-fetched to me. This is number one in a series, but I am not going to buy any more Pyke mysteries. ” ( )
  mojacobs | May 9, 2011 |
For some reason I couldn't get into this book. I didn't like the characters, the "plot" seemed weak and I just didn't enjoy reading it. There was to much going on, and for me, the ending was too far fetched and it just kept going on and on. Not recommended. ( )
  Fluffyblue | Aug 3, 2010 |
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A story of high intrigue and low politics, of brutal murder and cunning conspiracies, set against the backdrop of a fascinating period in British history and introducing an ingenious, pragmatic, and unforgettable hero. St. Giles, London, 1829--three people have been brutally murdered and the city simmers with anger and political unrest. Pyke, sometime Bow Street Runner, sometime crook, finds himself accidentally embroiled in the murder investigation but quickly realizes that he has stumbled into something more sinister and far-reaching. In his pursuit of the murderer Pyke ruffles the feathers of some powerful people, and, falsely accused of murder himself, he soon faces a death sentence and the gallows of Old Bailey. Imprisoned, and with only his uncle and the headstrong, aristocratic daughter of his greatest enemy who believe in him, Pyke must engineer his escape, find the real killer, and untangle the web of politics that has been spun around him.

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