The Pierced Heart

Written by Lynn Shepherd

Review written by Russell James

Russell James has been named “the Godfather of Noir” by Ian Rankin. Russell writes crime novels - about criminals and victims, not the cozy procedural or whodunnit. He is the editor of Great British Fictional Detectives.

The Pierced Heart
Delacorte Press
RRP: £16.12
Released: October 21, 2014

For many readers, Lynn Shepherd’s tales of the Victorian detective Charles Maddox are among the most rewarding in the genre, inserting famous characters from 19th century literature into a deeply researched (but not overladen) Victorian background.  Maddox and his father have already been involved in the plots of Dickens (Bleak House), Collins (The Woman in White), Mary Shelley (Frankenstein) and Jane Austen (Mansfield Park).

In The Pierced Heart a mysterious baron who shuns the light quits his mountain-top castle for Whitby to pursue Lucy and another young woman, as well as several ‘unfortunates’ from the slums of London.  Gruesomely desecrated bodies are found drained of blood – with puncture marks to the neck.

Could this be . . . no, surely not?

For this is Baron von Reisenberg, not Count Dracula.  And yet . . .

Charles Maddox, like Jonathan Harker, has already been to the lonely darkened castle – where his visit ended badly.  Must he face the Baron again?  Will it be time for Maddox to face his own demons?  Have no fear.  This artful romp is a delight from beginning to end, even if Shepherd does deliver one outrageous coincidence at the end – but where would Victorian novels be without coincidences?  It surely means that if Maddox fans have so far found him less colourful than the characters about him, his life is now about to become – literally – fantastic.  I can’t wait.

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