Sunday, October 6, 2013
Book Review: Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell
Author: David Morrell
Enjoyment Rating: *****
Source: Library Copy
This book would be rated: PG-13 or R for violence
Former English majors may know Thomas de Quincey as the author of Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, or as a second-tier romanticist, a friend of Wordsworth and Coleridge. In Murder as a Fine Art, David Morrell draws on one of Thomas de Quincey's lesser-known works, "On Murder as Considered one of the Fine Arts," which examines, in great detail a series of multiple murders that took place in London in the early 1800s. The story, set in 1854, shows what happens when someone tries to recreate and outdo the early murders. de Quincey, who recently moved to London with his daughter, Emily, is immediately considered a suspect, because the details of the original murders are so vividly described in his work. However, the novel quickly shifts gears from a whodunit to a thriller.
I'm a sucker for a good historical thriller, and Murder as a Fine Art definitely fits the bill. Morrell knows his Victorian London. He's able to convey the darkness of the streets at night and the fear people feel as the murderer is out on the loose. He also does a great job developing strong characters in de Quincey, Emily, the murderer, and several detectives (although I thought the implied romance between Emily and one of the detectives was a bit superfluous). The book was a ghoulish pleasure to read from start to finish, although the murders were also very vividly described, which may make it unpalatable for some readers.