Tag Archives: Mark Hodder

The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man

8 Oct

“The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man” is the second book in the Burton and Swinburne steampunk series by Mark Hodder.

I wasn’t expecting the book to be as good as the first, “The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack”.  It wasn’t.  It was even better.

The characters of Sir Richard Burton and Algernon Swinburne have rounded out quite a bit.  Burton seems to be a little less dark, and Swinburne is just as enchantingly perverted as before, with added sarcasm.

This story revolves around black diamonds known as the Eyes of Naga, and the Victorian scammer known as the Tichbourne Claimant.  The clockwork man of the title is found abandoned in Trafalgar Square and is pivotal to the story.

This book also sees the return of police officers Trounce, Honesty and Krishnamurthy from the first novel.  They are joined this time around by Krishnamurthy’s cousin Bhatti.

A couple of new permanent characters have been added.  Unemployed philosopher Henry Spencer, and Sir Richard’s own personal foul mouthed parakeet, Pox.

“The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man” is a rollicking, bouncing tale that rattles along at full steam from page one right to the very end.

It is obvious that this series is heading somewhere, rather than just being open ended adventures for Burton and Swinburne.

You don’t need to have read “The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack” before reading this, as many incidents in that book are referred to in this one.  However, I would recommend reading the first book before progressing to this one.  As I said, it is obvious that this is a series with intentions and you may miss something if you skip the first novel.

I’m very much looking forward to reading book three, “Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon”.


The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack

22 Sep

I am not a reader of Steampunk fiction, at least, I wasn’t until I came across “The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack” by Mark Hodder.

“The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack” is the first investigation by King’s Agent, Sir Richard Burton and his assistant, Algernon Charles Swinburne.  Mark Hodder sets out a wonderful alternative Victorian landscape where Albert is King after his wife’s assassination, and technology rules Britannia.

The novel is a wonderful tale of alternate history and time travel with a robust and delightful cast of characters.  Burton and Swinburne have an almost Holmes/Watson touch to them, or perhaps, given their particular vices, a touch of Moriarty/Moran may be more accurate,

I found the book enchanting, and delightfully humourous in many places.  The foul-mouthed messenger parakeets are hysterical.

On a darker note, the book is something of a cautionary tale of the dangers of technology allowed to run rampant with no thought to morals and ethics.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend “The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack” to anyone who enjoys Steampunk, alternate history, or just a riotous romp of a yarn.


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