Cover Image: The Fourteenth Letter

The Fourteenth Letter

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Member Reviews

Really good story based in 1800s Britain. It’s so unlike anything I’ve read before and is quite fantastical in places. Enjoyable read
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Phoebe Standbury is shot at her engagement party. Who was the mysterious man who killed her & what is the connection with the bundle of old papers William Lamb, legal clerk, is keeping safe?
This is a very Dan Brown sort of book but not, in my opinion, as good as his work. There are a lot of twists & turns with jumps from one thread to another. I am usually fine with this style of writing but it all got a little much somewhere in the middle & I almost gave up. I also feel that there were a few too many twists and turns for me to be totally comfortable with.
The background for this book was Victorian London. I didn't feel that there was a great sense of place and time. Yes, events and places are mentioned but I did feel that this story could have been transplanted into another time period quite easily. Maybe I just never became immersed enough in the story.
This is an okay book which had its good moments. Unfortunately I felt on the whole it was quite run of the mill with nothing special to take it above the pack.
I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley.
It was an okay read
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The Fourteenth Letter is a novel set in 1881. It starts gently, with a young girl being stabbed to death at her engagement party by a naked madman, moves on to an asthmatic young lawyer's frantic efforts to keep one step ahead of murderous thugs in the pay of a beautiful red-headed aristocrat (helped by an aging policeman and an American girl who is like a cross between Annie Oakley, Lisbeth Salander and a version of Michelle Obama who found herself on the wrong side of the law) and ends up with a fiendish plot to take over the world. If this sounds too frantic then don't worry - there is also plenty of character development, enough hints about back story to make those characters realistic and a happy(ish) ending. On a more serious side the book also takes a number of historical facts - the rise of eugenics, the criminal gangs in parts of London, the early days of the Met's C.I.D, scientific advances and attitudes to women - and weaves them into a plausible and, as I said, fiendish plot. This is a confident debut novel - if you enjoy really well-written historical crime fiction you could do worse than give this book a try.
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This is a dark and at times unpredictable tale that kept me guessing and guessing.

A bride is murdered on her wedding day and Victorian London is the most perfect setting for this gory and fabulous read.

This is a wonderful character driven novel with an amazing plot line. The descriptions of the poverty and run down parts of London to the intrigue of the mystery is what makes this story a delight to read. 

I loved the gothic feel and this is one book I will recommend and recommend
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Absolutely loved this book. Steampunk Victorian London, from lavish drawing rooms to the dark underbelly of Whitechapel.
Full of interesting characters and entertaining plot, this book really is worth a read :-)
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A gruesome and very public murder. A immature but well intentioned young law clerk. A gun toting American woman living and working with the worst Whitechapel has to offer. A young governess looking for employment. A pair of German dignitaries and an American vice president.  This novel has a wide and diverse cast of characters like no novel I have ever read. And half way through the novel I had no idea what was going on and how these would all come together. But they did and it was a fantastic, although a bit long, journey getting there.

This is the story begins with the murder of Phoebe Stanbury at her own engagement party. A stranger gatecrashes and kills her in front of her guests. His only words are to her fiancée, "I did this to save you".

The next day William Lamb, a shy law clerk, meets a mysterious client, one he was never meant to meet.By the end of the meeting he has been bequeathed a box full of old documents and a message for his employer and mentor, "The Finder knows..."

Thus begins a fantastic mystery set in London as it comes to the end of the nineteenth century. This is a world both stuck in the past and yet also making the first steps into the technological age. The story travels from aristocratic drawing rooms to the slums of Whitechapel seamlessly and really does take you to that time. The puzzle of the novel is kept a tight secret and not revealed until it was absolutely necessary. My only criticism is it was a bit overlong. There were a few lags but luckily the plot and characterization (Savannah was a particular favourite) were good enough to keep me interested.
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Firstly i would like to say its not that i think this is a bad book. The cover and storyline were definitely interesting and drew me in. I just ended up getting lost half way through, maybe its the time period that lost me or the story taking longer to play out than im used to but in the end i lost patience. Unfortunately not all books can be favourites
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I was absolutely engaged with this story; it was wonderfully written, filled with suspense and twists and turns.  The historical detail has been wonderfully imagined.
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This book is well written and fast paced and I am sure will appeal to many.   It reminded me a little of the Da Vinci Code.  Not my favourite read due to the topic of Eugenics and inter breeding but well worth a read.
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This review is based on a requested review copy via NetGalley

This was the first book I have read from this author but I will certainly be coming back for more. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it. The characters and settings are well fleshed out and give you a real sense of the version of London city which the book is set in. The story is set in a steampunk type Victorian London and holds plenty of appeal. The mystery, once revealed, is strong and at various points I just could not put the book down.

One small note of caution is the start of the book is very slow and takes a few chapters to get in to. This is due to the introduction of all the characters you will be following and doesn't give away much of what the rest of the book entails. Stick with it and you will be rewarded with an intriguing story.

Overall I would give this book an A-, the slow start may put some off but it is certainly worth reading and will provide plenty of enjoyment.
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I would like to thank Netgalley and Little, Brown Book Group UK for a review copy of The Fourteenth Letter, a fantastic romp through Victorian London.

The novel opens in startling fashion when Phoebe Stanbury, celebrating her engagement to the extremely eligible Benjamin Raycroft, is stabbed to death in front of her guests by a tattooed, naked man who says to Benjamin "Remember, I did this for you". In the meantime trainee solicitor William Lamb is itching for more responsibility and grabs the opportunity to visit his boss's secret client, Mr Habborlain when a summons comes and Mr Bridge is unavailable. Mr Habborlain entrusts William with a message for Mr Bridge and tells him to run. Mr Bridge when hearing the message tells William the same, thrusts a box of documents into his hand and then shoots himself. William's adventures after this are the meat of the novel.

The Fourteenth Letter is a bit of a hybrid novel. The plot is as suitably gothic as any Victorian could wish for with secret societies but some of the detail is more graphic than would have suited the audience and the character of Savannah Shelton, a somewhat mysterious American who helps William, decidedly too modern in her attitudes and language.

Initially I wasn't overly impressed with nove as it has a different point of view in every chapter which left me scrabbling to work out how they connect and to identify with the characters who are only seen in short bursts but once it gets going, about a third of the way in, it is a rattling good read. It is quite a long novel so this takes a bit of time but the easy, readable style of writing makes it easier.

The plot is clever. The basic premise bears no resemblance to reality or probability but it is a fun read and well done with William and Savannah seeing plenty of action. It is well paced with several unexpected twists and turns, especially as it reaches its climax.

The Fourteenth Letter is an exciting adventure story which I have no hesitation in recommending as a good read.
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