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Ratcatcher by James McGee is the first in the series about Matthew Hawkwood one of the 19th Century Bow Street Runners.
There is true historical fact been used in the book from the back drop of the story, the fact that the Bow Street Runners were the elite force of their time containing no more than 10 members and the history behind the submarine development. It is clear from the way these historical facts have been blended with a fictional story so well that James McGee has done his research into both what life was like and then what he wanted to protray to his readers.
The story is set in London to the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars and the beginning of the story starts with a coach robbery where an important parcel is being delivered and is stolen after the despatcher has been killed and the parcel removed from him.
Following a series of double twisted events it leads to Matthew Hawkwood being the only Bow Street Runner able to solve the mysteries that keep appearing before him. Hawkwood as he is refered to throughout the book is an ex-solider with a chequered past who was recommended to the Bow Street Runners by one of Wellington's top spies but in the book you are left with the feeling that there is much more to this character and his past that have yet to be explored so leaves room for more developments over further books.
James McGee is very good at portraying what life was like both for our unconventional hero and the other people who lived during this time, from the rich to the poor and draws you into this world to the point where you don't want to put the book down. You can feel the tension through the book as it leads up to the conclusion, this leaves you on the edge of you seat and unfortunately does leave you a little deflated at the end as you miss the big bang there you go ending that you think you'll be left with and does leave one or two loose ends that you hope will be tied up in the follow up.
Overall this is a good book and is very easy to read and due to the writers ability really draws you into what life in 19th Century London may have been like and gives us a rough around the edges unconventional hero that seems to have more lives than a cat.
Set in London sometime during the Napoleonic wars, RATCATCHER is a novel that at first glance shows a lot of promise but somehow tails off and bogs itself down in top-heavy plot as it draws towards the end. Which is a shame as the lead character, Matthew Hawkwood is an intriguing one and very likeable as the lead.
Basically, the book opens with a coach robbery by highwaymen who appear to have an alternate agenda than just stealing riches from the nobility. One of the passengers is carrying important documents and it seems as though this is what the robbers are really after. Hawkwood is the man charged with discovering the criminals responsible in a city full of vermin. As an ex-army man with varying nefarious contacts, it is deemed that he is the best man for the job. Unfortunately when one of his fellow officers turns up murdered, Hawkwood begins to get the impression that he's not being told the full story and that there is more to this case than at first meets the eye.
Combining historical drama with espionage, foreign spies and French aristocrats fleeing the troubles in their home country, this is a novel that rapidly appears to have bitten off far more than it can comfortably chew let alone swallow!! If this had remained a simple crime thriller it may have kept my interest for longer; as it is, before long the plots credubility becomes stretched and things get more complicated than I feel they ought to be. To reveal anymore would give away important plot details, but needless to say this is a novel whose end result just feels a bit contrived and like something we have seen before and seen better.
Thankfully this only cost me £1 in my local Asda and for that price I suppose I can't really complain too much. Still I feel let down by something that starts off so well then ends in a very damp squib.
Apparently there is at least one sequel called RESSERECTIONIST as a sample chapter is included at the back of this book. Personally I didn't bother reading it neither have I any intentions to pick this one up. For my mind,this is one series I can afford to miss!!