Take that show-stopper of a first line, and add to it foggy Victorian London, a mysterious department within the British Museum called The Department of Unclassified Artifacts, and a murder. Then throw a few teenagers into the mix: Eddie, a street urchin, who happens to pick a pocket at exactly the wrong - or right? - time; George, a clockmaker, who is on the brink of becoming an employee in the aforementioned mysterious department; and Liz, the insightful and brave daughter of an elderly clergyman.
Together, these three become involved in an intriguing mystery that involves zombies, seances, resurrected dinosaurs, ingenious clockwork mechanisms and a set of old journals that, it appears, are literally to die for. Despite the set of fairly stock characters and two-dimensional, thoroughly evil villains, the story takes off with its fast pace and gripping storyline, and there are enough plot twists and surprises to thrill any reader, particularly those in the targeted teenage audience.
I was delighted when the events of the book touched on the dinosaurs created by Waterhouse Hawkins, particularly the iguanodon statue in which he hosted the dinner, as so beautifully presented and illustrated in Barbara Kerley's The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins. It was fun to revisit the events from that book through the eyes of the characters in this one. Steven Pacey brings the story to life with his expressive narration, making it difficult to hit the "stop" button. A sequel to this one, The Parliament of Blood, has recently been released, and I'll be looking forward to seeing what bizarre trouble this sympathetic trio of friends will get into next.
The Death Collector by Justin Richards; narrated by Steven Pacey (Listening Library/Random House Audio, 2006)
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