THE EXECUTIONER'S HEART (Newbury and Hobbs #4)
It seems like a very long time between the release of The Immorality Engine, # 3 in the Newbury and Hobbes Series and #4, The Executioner's Heart. In my opinion, Newbury and Hobbes is one of the best steampunk series out there, but I was vaguely disappointed. I don't know whether it was the long wait, but many of the events described as happening in the past seemed unfamiliar to me. In The Executioner's Heart a hired killer has surfaced in London; a woman, beautiful, heavily tattooed and showing a porthole on her chest with her withered heart visible. She is killing the Queen's Agents, cracking their chests open and stealing their hearts. Bainbridge, Newbury and Miss Veronica Hobbes are called in to find the killer, but both the Queen and the Prince of Wales are throwing obstacles in their way. In addition a level of distrust has developed among the three partners.
George Mann has the ability to construct characters that are grotesque but believable. The Executioner herself is completely mad, but oddly sympathetic. Queen Victoria is like a particularly malevolent spider in a web of machinery keeping her alive. There is literally nothing that she won't do to expand her power. The characterization in The Executioner's Heart is as strong as ever, but the mystery of who hired the killer is somewhat obvious. I was also surprised that the shattering event that serves as a cliff-hanger for the next in the series is revealed in the first chapter.
As I said, I was vaguely disappointed but will be looking forward to the next in the series, The Revenant Express.
RATING- 3 Stars