|Posted by PatG on July 8, 2014 at 6:25 AM|
The Return of the Discontinued Man Mark Hodder, Pyr, 2014
The Return of the Discontinued Man is the fifth in Mark Hodder's Burton and Swinburne series. Spring Heeled Jack's back and he is after Burton with a vengeance. All across London leaping demons flicker in and out of existence shouting for Sir Richard and causing chaos. Over this, a blanket of pink snow falls and mutates in a temporal homage to H.G. Wells' Martian red weed. And then things get strange. As he tries to puzzle out the sudden infestation of Spring Heeled Jacks, Burton must navigate an Alice like world of shifting perception and reality - not all of it drug induced. With a plan in hand, Sir Richard and his companions, including H.G. Wells among others, set out to discover the truth about Spring Heeled Jack and put an end to the chaos he brings.
The beginning of the book is a little tough to get through but is worth the effort. The perspective shifts sometimes mid-page but not without reason. Hodder has set himself a difficult writing task here but succeeds at it. The middle section of the book really shines through. A well plotted trip takes Burton, Swinburne and their travelling companions across different realms in a way that leaves the reader hungry for the next chapter. From the central thread that defines the journey to all the little details of the places and people encountered on the way, it is a sharp and fresh bit of writing.
The story is enhanced by a strong element of social commentary especially for readers of a certain age and those familiar with late 20th century UK politics. The ending is filled with lots of action, some fancy hardware and justice and mayhem freely distributed in equal measures. Outside of the action, it has a few surprises and neatly ties up the story. There are no cliff hangers and the series could comfortably end here, but some very intriguing possibilities are left open for future adventures with Burton and Swinburne.
Patrick Gilliland (Steampunk Canada member PatG)
Patrick Gilliland is an unrepentant reader. He always has several small pyramids of books being read scattered about the house. While studying literature in university, he developed a like for Victorian novels and a dislike for Victorian poets. Currently his tastes run to 19th century history, traditional cookbooks and of course steampunk. When not reading or thinking about reading, he can be found in his man cave painting little lead martians. He denies responsibility for any pew pew or kerpow noises emanating form said edifice.