In the frigid winter of 1891, with the nation still reeling from the Barings bank crisis, Inspector Philemon Raft returns from an involuntary sabbatical and is tasked with solving the kidnapping of highly placed peer Alice Dewberry. Thrust into a sordid underworld where the upper classes indulge in disreputable overseas investments designed to fatten their pocketbooks, Raft finds himself at loose ends without his companion, Constable Freddie Crook. Far from offering their help, members of upper classes use every asset at their disposal to keep Raft from discovering the truth about hapless kidnap victim Alice Dewberry - who may not even exist.
Soon Raft discovers that his old nemesis, the workhouse master John Gallant, has returned to London. Gallant doesn't say what he wants - but he knows enough to ruin Raft's career and even his life. Raft tries to solve the case with his usual strange insight, but there are other, darker forces at work. This is a frightened London: the London of Whitechapel; of Jack the Ripper; the London of poverty, dirt, and despair, where a right turn down the wrong alley could earn Raft a swift trip to the morgue.
©2013 J. S. Cook (P)2015 Dreamspinner Press
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"Masterpiece Mystery meets M/M romance."
I loved the character of Constable Cholmendely... He was like a St Bernard desperately waiting for a pat on the head. The interplay and relationship between him and inspector Raft is fantastic. This has to be one of the most intricate plots of a m/m romance I've ever read... this was all about the story and the characters. The sex scenes are great - but they are secondary to the author's dedication to providing a rich mystery filled with amazing characters. The romantic plot of this book also truly captures you.
If you've always wished that Sherlock would just shut up and kiss Watson... you will LOVE this book. All the excitement and intricacy of a Holmes mystery and the edgier kind of Jekyll and Hyde Victorian tension are palpable. Cook does a super job keeping her m/m characters in very real concern for the danger of their romantic attractions. Through this series of books (which can all be read independently) the world she creates is palpable. Her research really shows and he flair for character specific dialogue is great.
It's very impressive. He brings depth and specificity to a huge range of characters. This book is really Dickensian in it's sweep - and he is pretty remarkable. It totally brought the book alive.
Inspector Raft and the Confounding Constable
If you like Cumberbatch's Sherlock and you're a fan of m/m fiction with historical flair... you'll love it.
I'm new to the m/m stuff and was reluctant to try this since I find so much of m/m "literature" pitifully simple minded and sappy. If you are of the same mind, please give this a chance. The narrator takes a little getting used to, but once you settle in with him, you will find him remarkable and very FUNNY! The story is quite good. I did not read the previous books and don't feel as if I missed anything. Beautifully written. Go for it.
"A sexy Victorian Sleuth with Oscar Wilde charm."
Definitely. Cook weaves very complex plots together (that also contribute to a overall character arc through the series). After reading the book you want to turn back and discover all the threads that are revealed once you know the outcome of the mystery. This is certainly one of the most complex and rich m/m themed books i've ever read. It's practically a Dickens novel with some incredibly rich gay characters.
Cook is clearly tipping her hat to Conan Doyle - there are recurring characters Raft consults with who are clearly based on Sherlock and Watson in personality (here they are lovers, rather than confirmed bachelors). She also has a very clever way of weaving other famous Victorian fictional characters and real history through the world of the plot. If you are looking for a really enjoyable read - rather than a book is thinly veiled plot to get to sex scenes - you will love this. The characters are dense and layered and when the book does explore sexual material the pay off is fantastic. Raft really reminds me of Michael Sheen - he's a wonderful, vulnerable and flawed character. The narrator dives into this book with both feet... it's very much in the vein of Game of Thrones, or Harry Potter narration... the range of voices, accents and characters is staggering. It's like a full Masterpiece Mystery - I was really impressed.
The scenes between Raft and Cholmendely as their relationship shifts is really endearing. I loved their dynamic together. Which, considering that readers of the previous books in the series were invested in another pairing with Raft... is pretty impressive. You didn't resent this character - you couldn't help but adore him.
I don't want to give it up - but there was certainly a scene at the end that had me in tears. I wasn't expecting it and I hadn't even realized how attached I had become to a certain character.
I'm eager for them to release the earlier two books in the series - hopefully with the same narrator. It would be great to have the entire series...but this book certainly does stand on it's own. You won't be at a great disadvantage listening to this (the third) in the series before the others... but I'll be it will whet your appetite to back and read more of them.
"Smart, Sophisticated and Sexy"
Yes - I think that the performance of the narrator brings the books very vividly to life. If you love big epic narrations like Game of Thrones or the Star Wars books... this is on that scale. The characterizations are specific and spot on. It was like listening to a great radio drama on the BBC. I hope the rest of the series is recorded soon as well by the same team.
I can't really compare JS Cooks writing to any other m/m writers off the top of my head... She is really creating a depth and complexity of plot and characters that really harken back to novels like Jane Eyre or Dorian Grey. That with a little dash of Dr. Who intrigue as well. If you're a fan of British costume drama and you love well-drawn gay leading characters, you'll love Inspector Raft.
Incredible versatility. The characterizations are so numerous - but they are all very specific and really help you follow the many plot lines. I thought his portrayal of Cholmedely and Jeremy Hoare were my favorite. If you're a Jeremy Brett Sherlock fan you can really hear that influence in Hoare.
Fighting every crime... except the one of his heart.
This is a strong, solid piece of detective fiction... not a pulp bodice-ripper at all.
"Cumberbatch hotness in Victorian London"
I was really won over by this book. It's nothing like what I expected... I thought it would be typical m/m romance with a kind of clunky plot and thinly veiled excuses for the characters to have it off. Nothing of the kind. The author is totally invested in creating a complex mystery, a complex and detailed feel for the era, and a fully developed hero. I love that there are very strong allusions to other classic Victorian characters (Characteres very like Sherlock Holmes and Watson serve as an intellectual foil to Inspector Raft) as well as Jack the Ripper. The narration is incredibly well done - with nuance and enormous variety... and witty delivery. I think lovers of great detective novels will find themselves pleasantly delighted to discover Inspector Raft and his sensual and sensational adventure.
"So much more than m/m erotica!!!"
This book is so rich and detailed... It's obvious the author has done a vast amount of research into creating a believable Jack the Ripper era Victorian London. Inspector Raft is a really engaging leading character in the Agatha Christie vein... (in my head I imagined Ioan Gruffudd or Alan Cumming)... with a great duality and inner struggle that weaves an even greater mystery into the narrative arc. I am very much hoping they release the rest of the series on audiobook because I was enchanted by the versatility and characterizations by the narrator. He does an incredible job creating a huge cast of characters with theatrical aplomb. It reminded me Jim Dale doing Peter and the Starcatchers or Harry Potter. Although the book is m/m romance that is only the tiniest sliver of what makes the a really arresting work of mystery fiction. Don't discount it as 'gay pulp'... this is a really cool novel.
"Don't Get Attached"
This mystery is a mess due to grotesque and unnecessary mayhem (please look up the legal definition of "mayhem")).
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