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Tiny Tim is back! No, not the squeaky-voiced troubadour who tip-toed through tulips in the 1960s, but the original--Timothy Cratchit, the crutch-wielding tyke from Charles Dickens'sA Christmas Carol. Only now he's a "mostly able-bodied" 23 years old, resides in a London whorehouse in exchange for tutoring the madam, struggles to wean himself from financial dependence on his ancient "Uncle" Ebenezer Scrooge, and, as we learn in Louis Bayard's darkly enchanting historical thriller,Mr. Timothy, is haunted by the spirit of his late father--a man whose optimism and strength the son feels himself incapable of imitating.

When we first encounter Timothy, during the Christmas season of 1860, he's vexed by the discovery of two dead 10-year-old girls, each branded with the letter "G"--one found in an alley, the other fished from the Thames River by Cratchit and a voluble old salt who makes his money by finding (and then robbing, of course) errant corpses. Timothy's concern leads him to protect a third possessively marked waif, the frightened and suspicious Philomela--who, he soon realizes, is being sought by a knife-loving former Scotland Yard inspector and a moneyed, malevolent voluptuary. When, despite precautions, Philomela is kidnapped by her pursuers, Cratchit--assisted by a shrewd warbling urchin known as Colin the Melodious--resolves to fulfill his "great calling" in life by mounting a rescue. However, this mission will force the habitually uncourageous Timothy to not only defend himself against sexual molestation charges, storm a well-guarded mansion, and solve the puzzle of a coffin-filled basement, but also engage in a nightmarish final chase along London's docklands.

Authors employing real-life characters as detectives are often hampered by their adherence to historical fact. Bayard suffers no such limitations in imagining what fates awaited Dickens's now-famous fictional figures. Under his pen, Scrooge--whose rooms are decorated for Christmas year-round--becomes an eccentric collector of fungi and host to an interminable stream of charity solicitors, while Timothy Cratchit strikes out beyond his lonely young man status to become the head of an unconventional clan. Bayard's appreciation for the lurid exoticness of Victorian London rivals that of John MacLachlan Gray (The Fiend in Human), while his lyrical prose subtly suggests 19th-century influences. Mr. Timothy is at once a compelling Christmas crime yarn and an audacious literary endeavor. No humbug there. --J. Kingston Pierce

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ISBN-10:  0060534214
ISBN-13:  978-0060534219
Author:  Louis Bayard
Publisher:  HarperCollins
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review by . August 05, 2008
The concept is so forehead-slappingly simple I was a bit skeptical going into this book: Tiny Tim (" . . . who did NOT die", and I hear Gonzo from the The Muppet Christmas Carol - Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition, for my money still the best adaptation) grows up! Doh, sure, that's too easy (hmm, why didn't I write that book first?), so I mentally subtracted a star from my rating of Mr. Timothy before turning the first page..    But the execution turned out to be more complex, …
Quick Tip by . March 22, 2011
A post-Dickensian classic/adventure/thriller that owes much to Charles Dickens' creation of the well-known character, Timothy Cratchitt, but is certainly not derivative in any way. Thoroughly enjoyable!
review by . March 22, 2011
Timothy Cratchitt, now fully grown with his crippling childhood infirmity reduced to a limp and a chronic ache in bad weather, is sadly mindful of his financial dependence on his uncle. Somewhat disappointed in himself for that, he lives in Mrs. Sharpe's brothel, earning his room and board by teaching the madam of the house how to read. He and his dear friend, Captain Gully, scrape together spending money by trolling the Thames for lost treasures and even by recovering the corpses of the odd …
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