Hawksmoor

  • by Peter Ackroyd
  • Narrated by Derek Jacobi
  • 11 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Peter Ackroyd's Hawksmoor was first published in 1985. Alternating between the eighteenth century, when Nicholas Dyer, assistant to Christopher Wren, builds seven London churches that house a terrible secret, and the 1980s, when London detective Nicholas Hawksmoor is investigating a series of gruesome murders on the sight of certain old churches, Hawksmoor is a brilliant tale of darkness and shadow.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Great subject matter - just doesn't deliver.

Would you try another book from Peter Ackroyd and/or Derek Jacobi?

Peter Ackroyd - perhaps and perhaps not.
Derek Jacobi - Definitely


What could Peter Ackroyd have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

I really didn't like this book.

The plot was fascinating and the premise was even better.

Peter Ackroyd wrote the novel well.

The characters were simply unlikable. I loved the architectural details and the ascent of the 18th century protagonist but he was so unabashedly evil! I found it rather hard to identify with him. His modern counterpart was also rather unlikeable as he was just so depressed at his own mediocrity.

I wished the novel could have gone in a different direction. Perhaps this is a book that would do well in a book group or read by a few people at the same time. I would have liked to discuss much of this book as I was reading it.


What about Derek Jacobi’s performance did you like?

Derek's voice is perfect. He is one of my all time favorite actors. I have much respect for him.


You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The book was well written. The plot path was woven quite intricately and in an interesting way. I found it quite easy to discern the two paths of the story, present and past. Derek Jacobi's performance aided this distinction quite a bit.


Any additional comments?

I loved everything about this book except the characters. Perhaps I need to read / listen to this novel again.

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- Amazon Customer

Intellectual yet gimmicky literary novel

Hawksmoor appeared on my Audible search results for a mystery. I was intrigued by a NY Times review which said that "this was a novel primarily of ideas", specifically a contrast between the superstitious and mystical beliefs of an earlier time and those coming of age in the 18th century dealing with the "new science of rationalism and experimental method" which "will eventually eradicate superstition". I did not really find much evidence of this debate in the novel. Instead, it seems preoccupied with the debased nature of mankind. Much of the text takes place inside the minds of the two main characters, Nicholas Dyer, a fictional version of the eponymous real life architect, Nicholas Hawksmore and the modern detective, recursively named Nicholas Hawksmore, who is investigating a series of child murders in London. The action takes place in the area of seven churches built by the real architect Hawksmore whose devotion to Christianity is called into question by the numerous pagan symbols he used to decorate his churches. This much is actually true and does add a note of interest to the text.

The internal musings of these two characters borders on the paranoid and the delusional. I am not especially drawn to this type of study of the human psyche, with characters speaking internally in an overheated emotional and irrational way, all the while afraid that their irrationality and indeed criminal nature is about to be discovered.

I found much of the work repetitious, especially so because the author chose the rather gimmicky device of repeating many of the thoughts and actions of the characters whose lives are separated by some 300 years to create a supernatural aura over his tale. And yet without the atmosphere created by this echo down the centuries, the book would lose much of its interest entirely. One saving grace was to be able to play the reading at 1.5x or even 2.0x time; if I were reading the book, I would have had to skim large sections too.

This is not to say that there are not entertaining moments, but they are few and far between. Even the brilliant acting of Derek Jacobi could not redeem this work for me.
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- Gail N.

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-05-2010
  • Publisher: Audible Studios