Murder as a Fine Art : Thomas and Emily De Quincey

  • by David Morrell
  • Narrated by Matthew Wolf
  • Series: Thomas and Emily De Quincey
  • 12 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Gaslit London is brought to its knees in David Morriell's brilliant historical thriller.
Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his memoir Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, is the major suspect in a series of ferocious mass murders identical to ones that terrorized London 43 years earlier.
The blueprint for the killings seems to be De Quincey's essay "On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts". Desperate to clear his name but crippled by opium addiction, De Quincey is aided by his devoted daughter, Emily, and a pair of determined Scotland Yard detectives.
In Murder as a Fine Art, David Morrell plucks De Quincey, Victorian London, and the Ratcliffe Highway murders from history. Fogbound streets become a battleground between a literary star and a brilliant murderer, whose lives are linked by secrets long buried but never forgotten.


What the Critics Say

"An absolute master of the thriller." (Dean Koontz)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Historical Fact + Fiction = Gothic Mystery

Morrell has done an able job of blending history with fact to create a page-turning study of 1854 London. The work focuses on real-life English author Thomas De Quincey (Confessions of an English Opium-Eater), whose essay "On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts" focused on the infamous Ratcliffe Highway murders of 1811. In Murder as a Fine Art, a copycat murderer who is both recreating and upstaging the Ratcliffe Highway murders lures De Quincey and his strong-willed, freethinking daughter Emily to London just in time to frame De Quincey for the tragedies. The resulting novel is both a gothic thriller and a thought-provoking and affecting contemplation of memory, addiction, and guilt.

I especially applaud Morrell for his Afterword essay, which explains not only how he researched and incorporated true history into his mystery, but also how he altered his writing style to mimic 19th-century sensationalist literature and incorporate De Quincey's own words. His generous list of works consulted is wonderful and most appreciated.

I give this four rather than five stars because the prose sometimes feels clunky and the pacing irregular. Emily, in particular, not only feels like a one-note, too-good-to-be-true stereotype (a "Mary Sue," if you will), but she also snags the rhythm at times by launching into righteously indignant monologues on women's fashion or prison reform at improbable times in the midst of action. Tidbits of description also appear extraneous on occasion. I mostly blame Lyndsay Faye for my reaction to this, as reading her recent novels has spoiled me and led me to expect other authors of historical fiction to fold their extensive research seamlessly into narratives without pausing for jarring "infodumps."

None of these criticisms detract, however, from the fact I quite enjoyed and definitely recommend this novel. With Matthew Wolf's excellent narration, it's well worth a listen.
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- Amy "Say something about yourself!"

5 Stars All-Around!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Due to listening to this book, I can now define the niche genre of "Victorian Gaslight Mysteries and Thrillers." I always liked this genre, but didn't have a name for it, exactly. I intend on reading/listening to much more of this category, but they may pale in comparison to this one. I don't give 5 stars for everything very often. The story was so totally engrossing and you could really get the feel of being there. Morrell described the lifestyles, customs and conduct of all levels of Victorian society so very well and then created an equally compelling mystery. I was so amused by the regular concern of various male character's that Emily (De Quincey's daughter) or "a lady" must leave the room, or could not hear the more graphic or certainly violent descriptions of police work or even relatively innocent conversations, by today's standards. And I had no idea that in Victorian England, that a surgeon was a step below a physician and that a physician (who treated the upper classes) would never touch his patients. Totally nuts, but that was accurate, I'm sure. And then Matthew Wolf did a superb job as narrator and dramatically enhanced what was already such a very well-written tale. Then the bonus of the post-script was very interesting. If you're a history buff or a fan of this genre or just a mystery fan, I think you'll love it.

What did you like best about this story?

I liked it all. But besides the terrific story, Matthew Wolf's narration was spot-on.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Maybe, but it was always nice to come back to later.

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- Book Scanner Nan

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-24-2013
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio