Adding the name Bram Stoker to any late 19th-early-20th century novel introduces an element of otherworldliness in a fascinating tale that winds through England's theatrical world and society's dark dens where purveyors of sin sell their wares. Begun with the chase of an assumed murderer who leaves a trail of death that follows a particular theatrical group, Detective Inspector Sebastian Becker is certain of the culprit, stage manager Tom Sayers, a former boxer with some success in the ring and on the stage. The evidence appears incontrovertible, Sayers the obvious villain as Becker peruses the theater advertisements that perfectly coincide with the dates of the murders.
Sayers is in custody but manages to escape, thanks to the petty bullying of the officers who release Tom for a bare-fisted match. Now the suspect is on the run, Becker determined to recapture his prey. From Tom Sayers' point of view, the problem is not so simple: he knows he is innocent, can suggest the identity of the real killer, but nothing matters once Sayers' name is posted all over England. Turning to the only man who may give him the benefit of the doubt, Sayers approaches Bram Stoker, who is managing a more successful theater company. A man of diverse interests and appetites, Stoker introduces Sayers to a world beyond reason, beyond the obvious, a world where souls enter a godless bargain.
To further complicate his escape, Sayers is obsessed with the well-being of a beautiful young singer-actress to whom he is devoted, Louise Porter. Even with the possibility of eluding the authorities, Sayers cannot turn his back on the innocent Louise, returning to the theater company in hopes of protecting her. Over the course of the next few years, Tom follows the object of his unreciprocated affections, counseled by Stoker as the two men seek a resolution to Sayers' dilemma. Tom remains a wanted man, although the trail has long grown cold; Sebastian is as resolute as his quarry, following from England to Philadelphia to the old south.
Balancing the actions of three pivotal men, Becker, Sayers and Stoker, and the female at the heart of their quest, Gallagher has created an intelligent, challenging novel that explores one man's ungovernable passion and the true nature of evil. As realistic as the abattoirs where the victims are discovered, the shadowy world of theaters, carnies and con men, Sebastian injects the logic of police work, while Stoker suggests darker forces, Sayers single-minded in his pursuit of redemption. One man's good intentions are powerless against a pervasive evil; yet good men agree that the battle must be waged, that good can never acquiesce in the face of attack. Wonderful and frightening characters inhabit this novel, caught in a century in flux, where the truly dangerous slip with ease through an unsuspecting crowd. Luan Gaines.
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Luan Gaines (luan_gaines)
An artist/writer, I have traveled the world, walked on the moon and learned the complicated language of humanity, the enormity of the universe... all through the written word. My first passport was a … more
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Escaping from custody after being arrested for the serial killings of pauper children, former boxing champion Tom Sayers, desperate to prove himself innocent and to reveal the true murderer, searches for the dark truth and ancient evil behind the murders.