I have been a fan of David Morrell since the late 80s and early 90s, when he wrote his great thriller trilogy, consisted of The Brotherhood of the Rose, The Fraternity of the Stone and The League of Night and Fog. Since then I’ve read many of his novels, including his last three works, and while I have always enjoyed his writing none of them have.replaced any of the early works on my list of favorites. That is – until I read Book Number 27 of 2013 Murder as a Fine Art.
As far as I’m concerned, this book may be Morrell’s best book ever! Using The Ratcliffe Highway Murders of 1811, and Thomas De Quincey’s essay On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Art as the foundations, Morrell transports the reader back to the streets of 1854 London recreating the gas lit streets,fog,hansom cabs, and Scotland Yard, and most of all the panic created by two grisly mass murders! In the story told partly through the diary of his daughter Emily, Thomas De Quincey and his daughter have come back to London from their home in Edinburgh. They have come because someone has sent word to De Quincy that they have information about Ann his long-lost love. Soon De Quincey becomes a suspect in the investigation of a mass murder that matches the Ratcliffe Highway murders perfectly. De Quincey is a suspect at first because he had described the murders in such detail in his essay, that it almost seemed that he had been there!! As the story unfolds, Detective Ryan the lead investigator realizes that the slight 69 year-old, Opium-Eater could not have committed the crime and enlists his help to find the murderer before he strikes again!!
I have often written that I enjoy a novel that also teaches me something and this one certainly did that. I knew nothing about Thomas De Quincey beyond the title of his memoir Confessions of an Opium-Eater and nothing about the Ratcliffe murders. Both of them are now etched in my memory thanks to the exhaustive research and marvelous story presented in this book. Morrell spent over two years engrossed in the world and writings of the time period around 1854 and it has paid off. As I was reading I was amazed at Morrell’s writing which read like a Victorian and not like the writing of the David Morrell that I am familiar with, it was an amazing and wonderful transformation, My hope is that Morrell continues the series and De Quincey and his daughter help Detectives Ryan and Becker solve more crimes!!.
Robert Morrison author of The English Opium Eater- A Biography of Thomas De Quincy writes this about the book:
“Morrell’s use of De Quincey’s life is absolutely amazing. I literally couldn’t put the book down. I felt as though I were in Dickens as he described London’s fog and in Wilkie Collins when we entered Emily’s diary There were beautiful touches all the way through. Murder as a Fine Art is a triumph.”
I agree!! Check it Out!! As for me, I’ve already been to Amazon to check out the writings of Thomas De Quincey and Confessions of an English Opium-Eater is already on the iPhone, thanks to David Morrell!