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.
"Great narration, but story left questions"
The narration was really good, but the story left a little bit to be desired. I don't regret listening though.
Yes. Even though I felt confused by some of the book, I did enjoy it. They have written more mysteries and I want to see how they are.
So many accents and variations in tone. It's hard to believe that one person created them all. A few accents were very strong though, and I almost couldn't understand the words. Still I thought it was a great performance.
Full review from Rainbow Gold Reviews. (A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.)
Narration: I’ve listened to many books narrated by Joel Leslie. He always does a fantastic job creating a multitude of accents and variations in tone to give a unique voice to every character in the book. Sometimes it is hard to believe all the voices come from one person. His narration was a bright spot of this listening experience.
Story: This review is a little hard for me to write. I enjoyed the book and thought it had some really interesting ideas. However, there was so much going on in this book, maybe a little too much. I was left feeling confused and also wanting more. Many of the ideas I would have liked to learn more about. According to Goodreads, this book is listed as book 3, but I don’t see the previous books for sale anywhere. Perhaps those might have cleared up some of my confusion.
We start in 1891 when being gay could be considered a crime. Inspector Philemon Raft is assigned to solve the case of a missing girl. Raft is an interesting character. He seems to see ghosts. I would have liked to have seen his ability be used in solving crimes, but it seems like it is just a facet of the character that doesn’t really go anywhere. He still seems to have excellent powers of deduction and is a respected detective. His lover and sidekick, Constable Freddie Crook, is out of the country battling a laudanum addiction. It is obvious that Raft had great feelings for the man. During moments of the book, Raft would hear or see Freddie. I was left trying to figure out whether he was dead or if it was just daydreams and memories. It played havoc on Raft and on me, too.
With Freddie gone, Raft is assigned a new partner, Prentiss Chalmondley. (I think that is how it is spelled, since I listened to the audio without having the book in front of me.) Prentiss is an interesting character. He talks in a cockney slang that causes others to think he’s not particularly bright, but they’re dead wrong. His intelligence and investigative skills are clearly being misused in his usual position of minding the prisoners in their cells. Prentiss is also a very likable guy. His crush on Raft is returned a bit, but Raft is longing for Freddie.
The mystery itself was interesting. A boat load of twists and turns await, including an intersex character. While the kidnapping case was solved, in a matter of speaking, it’s not without casualties. Several lives are lost, and Raft finds himself maybe-temporarily blinded. I wish I could find out what happens in the future for him. Gallant is a side character who I would have liked to learn more about as well. He and Raft have a past, but I feel like there could have been a whole other story involving that past, because even Raft seems unclear as to what happened. Overall, it is a book I would recommend. It was a good mystery but I wish I didn’t have so many questions left hanging when it ended. My hope is that the previous two books are being republished or there will be a follow up.
7.5/10 Pots of Gold
"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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