Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Gideon Smith and the Mask of the Ripper by David Barnett

In an alternate nineteenth century where a technologically advanced Britain holds sway over most of the known world and the American Revolution never happened, young Gideon Smith is firmly established as the Hero of the Empire.

Back in London, Gideon and his colleagues: journalist Aloysius Bent, airship pilot Rowena Fanshawe, and Maria, the mechanical girl to whom Gideon has lost his heart, are dragged into a case that is confounding the Metropolitan Police. For the city is on the edge of mass rioting due to the continuing reign of terror by the serial killer known only as Jack the Ripper, who is rampaging though London's less salubrious quarters.
While chasing the madman, a villain from their past strips Gideon Smith of his memory and is cast adrift in the seedy underbelly of London, where life is tough and death lurks in every shadowy alley.
With mob rule threatening to engulf London, the Empire has never needed its hero more...but where is Gideon Smith?
Gideon Smith and the Mask of the Ripper is the latest in David Barnett's riproaring steampunk adventures about a Britain that never was...but should have been.

This is the first book with David Barnett's memorable character, Gideon Smith, that I've read. This book can stand alone so it wasn't necessary to read the first two books in the series, A bit mystery, a bit gothic, a bit steampunk, is the best way to describe this novel. Gideon Smith is a daring character who sets off on an adventure to find The Ripper. The setting is an alternative, or dystopian Victorian London. 

There are plenty of fascinating plot twists that kept me reading as Gideon encounters one crisis after another while prostitutes are being horrendously murdered. Compelling characters are often not what they appear to be, and each chapter has something new to offer. Every once in a while, the author injects some humor amid all the dark mystery. The steampunk/dystopian setting may not appeal to all readers, but it is entertaining as long as one allows themselves to fall into the story. 

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.