The Newbury & Hobbes novels. Cover art by Viktor Koen
George Mann’s Newbury & Hobbes Investigations are a highly acclaimed steampunk mystery series. amNewYork called the opening volume “A riveting page-turned that mixes the society of manners in turn-of-the-century London with a gritty and brutal murder mystery,” and Entertainment Weekly says the books bring “industrial London to life like a Jerry Bruckheimer movie in book form.” Damn — I’m still not sure what these books are about, but I definitely want to read them.
There have been five so far.
#1: The Affinity Bridge (April 2010)
#2: The Osirus Ritual (June 2011)
#3: The Immortality Engine (July 2012)
#4: The Executioner’s Heart (July 2014)
#5: The Revenant Express (February 2019)
The most recent, The Revenant Express, arrived in February this year from Tor. Like the others, it’s a quick read, 237 pages, and available in both hardcover and digital formats. Here’s the description.
[Click the images to embiggen.]
The grand adventure continues in George Mann’s Newbury & Hobbes steampunk mystery series, as a Victorian special agent races across a continent to save his beloved’s life on board The Revenant Express.
Sir Maurice Newbury is bereft as his trusty assistant Veronica Hobbes lies dying with a wounded heart. Newbury and Veronica’s sister Amelia must take a sleeper train across Europe to St. Petersberg to claim a clockwork heart that Newbury has commissioned from Faberge to save Veronica from a life trapped in limbo.
No sooner do they take off then sinister goings-on start to plague the train, and it is discovered that an old villain, thought dead, is also on board and seeking revenge. Can Newbury and Amelia defeat him and get the clockwork organ back to the Fixer in time to save Veronica? And can they do so without Newbury going so far into the dark side of occult magic that he can never return?
Meanwhile, Sir Charles Bainbridge is the only one of their team left in London to struggle with a case involving a series of horrific crimes. Someone is kidnapping prominent men and infecting them with the Revenant plague, leaving them chained in various locations around the city. But why?
It’s a rousing chase to save both London and Veronica. Will these brave detectives be up to the task?
My go-to guy for the best in modern SF and fantasy, the tireless John DeNardo, first tweaked me to these books in a Series Spotlight at Kirkus Reviews back in 2013.
One particular mashup that really stokes my bookish fires [is] a pairing of two particular story flavors I enjoy individually.. Those two parts are steampunk stories and Sherlock Holmes stories. A series that embodies that delicious steampunk mystery is George Mann’s Newbury and Hobbes…
The Newbury and Hobbes series follows the investigative team of Maurice Newbury and Victoria Hobbes as they solve fantastical crimes set in Victorian England. Newbury, a museum researcher by day, is otherwise employed as an agent to Queen Victoria herself (who has her own issues). At the outset of the series, he hires the capable Victoria Hobbes as his assistant. Together, they solve mysteries of a most extraordinary nature…
Besides presenting compelling mysteries, the series is also excels at being a gripping adventure. Clues ostensibly lead the Newbury and Hobbes — sometime together, sometime following up their leads independently — to exciting, life-and-death situations, or at least great peril.
In addition to being standalone mysteries, the series as a whole depicts some greater story arc elements that keep it from getting stale. For example, there are background plot lines dealing with Queen Victoria herself (a creepy sub-plot involving the Queen’s efforts to become immortal), Victoria Hobbes’ sister, and the evolving, realistically grounded portrayal of the relationship between Newbury and Hobbes. Regarding these arcs, each novel tantalizingly hints at good things to come.
The next one in the series, The Albion Initiative, has already been announced.
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