The Affinity Bridge (Newbury & Hobbes Investigation #1)

The Affinity Bridge (Newbury & Hobbes Investigation #1)

3.6 88
by George Mann

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Welcome to the bizarre and dangerous world of Victorian London, a city teetering on the edge of revolution. Its people are ushering in a new era of technology, dazzled each day by unfamiliar inventions. Airships soar in the skies over the city, while ground trains rumble through the streets and clockwork automatons are programmed to carry out menial tasks in the

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Welcome to the bizarre and dangerous world of Victorian London, a city teetering on the edge of revolution. Its people are ushering in a new era of technology, dazzled each day by unfamiliar inventions. Airships soar in the skies over the city, while ground trains rumble through the streets and clockwork automatons are programmed to carry out menial tasks in the offices of lawyers, policemen, and journalists.

But beneath this shiny veneer of progress lurks a sinister side.

Queen Victoria is kept alive by a primitive life-support system, while her agents, Sir Maurice Newbury and his delectable assistant Miss Veronica Hobbes, do battle with enemies of the crown, physical and supernatural. This time Newbury and Hobbes are called to investigate the wreckage of a crashed airship and its missing automaton pilot, while attempting to solve a string of strangulations attributed to a mysterious glowing policeman, and dealing with a zombie plague that is ravaging the slums of the capital.

Get ready to follow dazzling young writer George Mann to a London unlike any you've ever seen and into an adventure you will never forget…

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Editorial Reviews

This British sci-fi tale invites you to visit a Victorian London that would baffle and astonish Sherlock Holmes. In this Jules Verne–worthy realm, Queen's agent Sir Maurice Newbury and his fetching assistant, Miss Veronica Hobbes, are charged with thwarting miscreants who use science and the supernatural to achieve their ends. In The Affinity Bridge, Newbury and Hobbes must confront mysteries involving a crashed airship, a missing automaton pilot, a glowing serial killer, and a zombie plague. All in a day's work in this entertaining steampunk detective novel.

Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
Newbury & Hobbes Series, #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.45(w) x 8.16(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

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The Affinity Bridge

A Newbury & Hobbes Investigation

By George Mann

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2009 George Mann
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-6009-0



The room was full of ghosts.

Or so Felicity Johnson would have had him believe. Sir Maurice Newbury, weary from a day spent scouring the dusty stacks of the British Library, drummed his fingers on the table with a quiet impatience. The dinner party was not working out at all as he'd anticipated.

Around him, the other guests sat in a wide circle, spaced evenly around a large round table, their faces glowing in the dim light of the gas-lamps. Overturned tumblers, tarot cards, holly leaves and other assorted paraphernalia littered the table-top, and their host, her shrill voice piercing in the otherwise silent room, was attempting to raise the dead.

Newbury, decidedly unimpressed by the charade, glanced at the other guests around the table. Their faces were difficult to read in the half-light, but many of them appeared captivated by the performance of the woman as she waved her arms about her, wailing, her eyes shut tight, her body tensed; possessed, apparently, by some kind of unearthly spirit. She was currently engaged in babbling something about Meredith York's dead brother, and the poor woman was entirely taken in, sobbing on her husband's arm as if she truly believed she were receiving messages from beyond the grave.

Newbury shot a look at the man seated beside him and shrugged. Sir Charles Bainbridge was a Chief Inspector at Scotland Yard, a favoured agent of Queen Victoria herself and one of the most rational men in Newbury's acquaintance. He didn't think for a minute that his old friend would be taken in by any of this nonsense. He was older than Newbury, about ten years his senior, and was greying slightly around the temples. His moustache was bushy and full, and his eyes were bright, shining with mischief and the glassy patina of alcohol. Acknowledging the pained expression on his friend's face, Bainbridge offered an amused smile, the flickering light casting his face in stark relief. Clearly, he was considerably more forgiving of the indulgences of their host. Newbury shook his head in exasperation.

A few moments later, Miss Johnson fell back into her chair with a gasp, her eyes suddenly flicking open, her hands raised to her mouth in affected shock. She turned to survey her guests. "Did I —?"

Meredith York nodded emphatically, and a moment later, when the gas-lamps were turned up and the room was once again cast in a warm orange glow, the small audience paid tribute to their host with a hearty round of applause. Newbury sat back in his chair, relieved that the spectacle was over. He rubbed a hand over his face, feeling a sense of lethargy creeping over him. The other guests were already deep in conversation as he surveyed the scene with the air of someone ready to take their leave. He didn't want to be drawn out on his opinions of the evening's pursuit, lest he inadvertently cause offence. He patted his friend on the arm.

"Charles?" The other man turned to meet his gaze. Newbury stifled a yawn. "My lodgings beckon me. I'm intent on taking a stroll. Would you care to join me?"

Bainbridge allowed himself a brief chuckle at the other man's expense. "That keen to get away, Newbury?" He shook his head in feigned disapproval, but his smile was barely concealed. "I had a feeling that you'd find this all rather objectionable. Come on, let's bid our friends good night and take our leave."

The two men stood together, and Felicity Johnson almost leapt out of her seat when she spotted them out of the corner of her eye. She briefly patted Meredith York on the back of the hand before turning to regard them. "Oh, gentlemen, must you go so soon?"

Newbury edged around the table and took her hand. "I am afraid that duty calls, my dear Miss Johnson. Both Charles and I have early appointments to keep in the morning. Thank you for a pleasant evening." He paused, unsure how to go on. "It has been an ... entertaining diversion." He inclined his head politely and turned to reclaim his coat from the butler standing by the door. The woman's face fell, and she stammered briefly before replying. "Always a pleasure, Sir Maurice." She turned to Bainbridge, who was just collecting his cane from the hat stand in the hallway. "And you, Sir Charles. I do hope we will see you both again soon." And with that, she returned her attention to the adoration of Meredith York and her other guests.

* * *

Outside, the pavement was covered in a layer of hoary frost. Newbury turned his collar up against the biting winter chill. The moon was full in the sky, the night was clear and people bustled along the street, their breaths making foggy clouds in the cold air. Newbury drew the crisp air deep into his lungs, obviously relieved to have escaped further embarrassment at the hands of Miss Johnson.

Bainbridge, his cane clicking rhythmically against the ground as he walked, turned to Newbury as they made their way back towards Piccadilly. "Really, Newbury, did you have to cut her so?"

"Oh, Charles, the woman's a buffoon! She's trifling with things she has no real concept of, making light of Mrs. York's bereavement. Games like that are dangerous and hurtful." He shook his head, sighing. "I did not aim to cause offence. I simply wanted to let her know that we were not taken in by her little merriment. You know as well as I do, there were no spirits present in that room."

They stopped as a ground train trundled by, the huge steam engine roaring as the fireman stoked the flames, the carriages behind it bouncing along the cobbled road, their wooden wheels creaking under the strain. Newbury caught stuttering glimpses of the people inside the small carriages as they rushed by, snug inside their little booths, speeding on towards their destinations. The driver, on the other hand, was wrapped up warm against the elements, sitting atop the engine itself on a large dickey box, a huge steering wheel clasped between his gloved hands. They watched as it rattled away into the night, causing hansom cabs and more traditional horse-drawn carriages to divert from their paths. Newbury smiled. It was time for the past to make way for the future.

The two men crossed the road and continued on their way. Newbury decided it was time to change the subject. "So, tell me, Charles, any new developments in the case at hand?"

The other man sighed. "Not as such. Can't seem to get past this ridiculous story about the glowing policeman. It's making life very difficult for my constables. They keep being accosted out on their rounds. No one will answer their questions, and the men themselves don't want to go out at night, lest they find themselves running into this damnable fellow. Superstitious prigs!"

Newbury looked suddenly serious. "Charles" — he patted the other man on the shoulder — "look who has his ire up now! Don't be so swift to discount these stories, at least before we have any real evidence to the contrary."

Bainbridge looked incredulous. "Heavens, Newbury, surely you're not putting any stock in these ridiculous tales? They are clearly as much poppycock as Miss Johnson's spirits!"

Newbury hesitated. "Look, Charles, I know I was dismissive of Miss Johnson, but I've spent the entire day scouring shelves in the British Library, looking for references to a glowing policeman, and I assure you, there is more to it than meets the eye."

Bainbridge stopped in his tracks. He leaned on his cane. "How so?"

"There's a case from about twelve years ago. A bobby who was murdered by a gang of petty thieves — found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. You know the sort of thing." Bainbridge nodded. "Well, for a month after the body was interred, a 'glowing bobby' was seen looming out of the fog around the Whitechapel area, his pale skin shining an iridescent blue. One by one, the bodies of the thieves turned up, all strangled, all dumped in the same area of the city. Witnesses reported sightings of the dead constable, come back from the grave to seek revenge on his aggressors. After the last of the thieves turned up dead, the 'glowing bobby' was never seen again." He paused. "Until now, that is. I pieced the story together from various newspaper reports."

Bainbridge shrugged. "It was probably the other boys from the station, using the story as a cover to take revenge for the murder. They don't take kindly to one of their own being put in the soil."

Newbury nodded. "That may well be the case, but until we know more, I think we need to follow this line of inquiry. It may turn out to be nothing but poppycock, but we shouldn't dismiss it until we've had the opportunity to investigate a little further first."

"Very well." Bainbridge covered his mouth with the back of his hand as he coughed. "Come on, let's get out of this cold."

Newbury sauntered along beside him. "Would you care to join me for a nightcap at the White Friar's? They have a shockingly good brandy."

Bainbridge was about to reply when a sudden powerful gust of wind knocked them both back a step, and the older man found himself clinging to his hat to ensure it wasn't lost in the draught. He looked up. "Damn airships! I wish they wouldn't fly them so low over the city."

Newbury laughed, following his gaze. The underbelly of an immense vessel was scudding overhead, scintillating in the reflected light of the city and temporarily blotting out the moon, casting the two men in a dark shadow. The airship companies had been enjoying a period of rapid growth in recent months, with demand for air travel almost exceeding their capacity to build new vessels and clear space for berthing fields. The appearance of a sizeable ship such as this was becoming a frequent occurrence in the skies over London, as the Empire grew larger and an increasing number of people found profitable business abroad. With the haulage companies taking to the skies, too, there was no longer any need to relocate to foreign climes on a permanent basis, and many businessmen had taken the opportunity to set up subsidiary companies in India, America and the West Indies. Newbury himself had never travelled on one of the vessels, but he was certainly enamored with them, and watched in wonder as this one drifted lazily overhead, en route, he supposed, to a berthing field south of the city. He glanced back at Bainbridge, who had finally finished repositioning his hat. "Well? To the White Friar's?"

Bainbridge shook his head. "Not tonight, old friend. You've given me much to think about, and I must say that that pudding of Miss Johnson's is sitting rather heavily on me now. Don't have quite the constitution I used to."

Newbury smiled. "You'll hear no argument from me." He held out his hand, and the other man grasped it firmly. "Let me know if there are any further developments in the case. In the meantime, I bid you well and good night." He turned and made off in the direction of the White Friar's Club, gazing up at the sky in wonder at the vapour trails left in the wake of the passing airship.


Newbury leaned back in his chair and, with a sigh, spread his morning copy of The Times out before him on the desk. After retiring from the White Friar's Club the previous evening, he'd found he was unable to sleep. Nonetheless, with the coming of the dawn, he had risen, dressed and caught a cab across the city from his Chelsea lodgings to his office at the British Museum. He had little doubt that his housekeeper, Mrs. Bradshaw, would curse him colourfully in her delightful Scottish tones for failing — yet again — to inform her of his plans, but he also knew that she was growing used to his unpredictable comings-and-goings, even if she feigned exasperation to his face.

Outside, the sun was settling over the city, and the streets were gradually coming to life as people set about their daily business. Soon the museum would be bustling with his fellow academics and, not long after, with members of the public, come to gaze in awe and wonder at the treasures on display in the gaudy exhibits. Newbury had been an agent of the Queen for nearly four years, and whilst he was typically engaged in some case or other — whether helping Scotland Yard or left to his own devices — he continued to maintain a position at the museum all the same. He was an experienced anthropologist, with a particular speciality in the religion and supernatural practices of prehistoric human cultures, and he often found his academic work had resonance with his work in the field. At present, he was engaged in writing a paper on the ritualistic practices of the druidic tribes of Bronze Age Europe. He'd hardly found time to touch it for a week, however, what with the string of bizarre strangulations occurring around Whitechapel and his desire to aid his old friend, Bainbridge, in the hunt for the killer. Discovering that the culprit may have supernatural origins had only solidified his resolve to see the case through to the end, and what's more, the revelation put the case firmly and directly into his specific area of expertise. Since briefing the Queen with a missive the previous day, any time he spent aiding Bainbridge with his investigations was now considered official business.

Newbury yawned. It was still early, and his secretary had yet to arrive at the office. He was anxious for a cup of tea. He regarded the newspaper before him, paying no real attention to the article he'd been trying to follow, which concerned a politician involved in some lurid financial scandal. He was dressed in a neat black suit, a white shirt and crimson cravat. His hair was dark — the very colour of night itself — and swept back from his face, and he was clean-shaven. His eyes were a startling emerald green. A casual observer would have placed him in his early thirties, but in truth, he was approaching his fortieth year. He looked up at the sound of someone bustling into the adjoining room and called out, "Good morning, Miss Coulthard. I'd like a pot of tea when you're settled, please." He returned, distractedly, to his reading.

A moment later, there was a brief rap at his door. He didn't look up from his newspaper when the door itself swung open and someone crossed into the room. "Thank you, Miss Coulthard. I trust you are well?"

The woman cleared her throat. Newbury's eyes flicked up from the print. "Oh, my dear Miss Hobbes. I do apologise." He fumbled for a moment, unsure how to remedy his error. "I'm afraid I'm still getting used to the notion that another person will be sharing my office. Do come in." He half stood behind his desk, embarrassment clearly written on his face, as his recently hired assistant, Miss Veronica Hobbes, crossed the room and took a seat before him. She was pretty: brunette, in her early twenties, with a dainty but full figure, and dressed in a white blouse, grey jacket and matching skirt.

She smiled. "Please don't apologise, Sir Maurice. It takes more than a little case of mistaken identity to offend me."

Newbury returned her smile. "Very good. Let's get you settled in, then, shall we? But first ... I don't suppose you're at all handy with a kettle?"

* * *

An hour later, fortified by a constant supply of Earl Grey, the office had become a hive of activity. Newbury was working through his notes from the previous day, trying to make sense of the various newspaper reports and apparent sightings of the "glowing bobby" around Whitechapel. He was wearing a frown, lost in thought and deep concentration.

Veronica was hard at work, clearing the spare desk across the other side of the room, unpacking her small box of belongings and filing the many sheaves of abandoned notes she continued to find in drawers and random piles all around the office. She had placed her jacket over the back of her chair, rolled up the sleeves of her blouse and attacked the mess like it was some sort of villain in need of appeasing. Newbury was suitably impressed by her fastidiousness.

It was into this scene that a distraught Miss Coulthard came running, late, her hastily tied bun coming loose so that strands of her hair flapped around her face as she came to rest in the doorway, breathless. Both Newbury and Veronica looked up in concern.

Newbury was on his feet immediately, worry etched on his face. "My dear Miss Coulthard, whatever is the matter?"

The woman cowered, as if afraid of what she had to say. Veronica offered her a heartfelt smile.

"Oh, sir, it's my brother Jack. He disappeared yesterday, and we've every fear that he may have succumbed to that terrible plague."

Newbury shuffled uneasily. "I understand your concern completely, Miss Coulthard. Look —" He indicated his visitor's chair. "— come and take a seat for a while, and Miss Hobbes here will fetch you a hot cup of tea." He glanced at Veronica apologetically, and she waved dismissively before hurrying off into the other room to organise another pot of tea.

Newbury put a hand on Miss Coulthard's arm to reassure her. "Now, why don't you tell me exactly what you know?"


Excerpted from The Affinity Bridge by George Mann. Copyright © 2009 George Mann. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Affinity Bridge 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 88 reviews.
Madame_Lovey-Dovey More than 1 year ago
I wasn't fanatic about The Affinity Bridge though I was thoroughly interested in it at the same time. It was a change from the books I have been reading (my recently read books I either couldn't get enough of or disliked with a passion). This one was in the middle. Still I recommend it too fans of mystery and steampunk genres. I guess the main reson why I wasn't too thrilled with it was(and I feel horrible saying this mind you) because it had minimal amounts of romance. I can tell George Mann was trying to ease into the relationship of the two main characters (but to me it was torture!) and I respect that especially since your average romance novel usually rushes the romance between the lovers to where it's unrealistic (I really do hate that part of being a fan of romance). All in all, The Affinity Bridge was an awesome book (with it's zombies and electrical walking canes...) to read and I enjoyed it very much. I am also very excited for the sequal The Osiris Ritual.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It seemed like a tweener book for British kids. I am neither. In spite of having enough plot elements to make a thrilling read, I put the ebook down again and again, even toward the end of the book. I will not criticize the author, I could do no better, and a critic risks nothing. He does write in a fashion that is easy to visulaize in the mind's eye.
Jim7440 More than 1 year ago
Affinity Bridge is a Steampunk crime Mystery set in London in the Victorian era. The author paints the setting well and we can actually feel the choking London fog of times gone by, but are further intrigued by elements of the story that are able to cloak themselves within the thick, dark atmosphere. The writing is good and fast paced so that our interest is held throughout the story. I don't want to give away the plot points of the story, but will say that it's imaginative, engaging, and inspires me to want to read the next book in the series, The Osiris Ritual. This is the sort of story that makes Steampunk interesting as a genre. I would have liked to get more of a feel for what it's like to travel on an airship, but perhaps that will come in one of the further stories.
Dawson59 More than 1 year ago
3.50 Stars Lack Depth What a wonderful tale centered in jolly old England, or is it jolly. The plague is feverently running through the slums of Whitechapel. Mysterious and unexplained murders are stumping Scotland Yard. To add to the mayhem, The Lady Armitage (a passenger derigible) has crashed in Finstead Park adding to the woes of the current investigative team of Veronica Hobbes, Sir Maurice Newbury and Inspector Charles Bainbridge. The Crown has summoned Sir Newbury to give his best effort to quickly uncover the airships demise as there could be a connection to the Royal Dutch Throne. How's that for a plot? Very enticing. The pros. This is a well laid out story. The scenes and descriptions are dead-on and will have the reader engulfed with the daily deluge of fog and rain in London. Keep a good cup of tea or coffee available to keep the chill off. You will find yourself immersed in the manufactory of the airships as our trio's clues lead them into the impressive, yet sinister company of Chapman and Villiers. The plot thickens as Professor Villiers introduces them to the intricacies of modern technology—The automatom's. Sir Newbury is overtaken by the new machines as they are fully functioning robots capable of performing the most intricate human endeavors. Yet, despite his fascination with the advances in science, he feels there is more than meets the eyes. Something is askew. Is there a connection between the downing of The Lady Armitage, the automatoms, and the murders of Whitechapel, or do they stand on their own? You'll have to get a copy for those answers. The cons. As in the last work, The Ghosts of Manhattan, the action scenes reminded me of a James Bond thriller. The injuries our hero, Sir Maurice Newbury has sustained would have him completely incapacitated to efficiently engage his assailants. A bit too far-fetched at times. The end of the work took up a little too much space as the reader is introduced to more hidden sub-plots. Overall, this is an excellent work the Steampunk followers will gobble-up in a heartbeat.
Sean_From_OHIO More than 1 year ago
The Affinity Bridge had all the potential in the world but when it was all said and done it didn’t amount to much. The world created by George Mann is an interesting one, his characters not so much. Each one was a cliché with little imagination and the mystery involved here left little doubt. Overall this book was a fine attempt but not worth the time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Though a little less engaging than it's sequel, The Osiris Ritual, The Affinity Bridge is an absolutely fantastic story which in many ways catered perfectly to my notion of Steampunk London. Sir Maurice Newbury is the Sherlock Holmes of steampunk, with a wonderful personality that is, nevertheless realistic; Newbury has faults. The relationship between he and Miss Veronica Hobbes, his "assistant," (she is only so in that Newbury hired her; in every other way she is his equal) is endearing, and is possibly the first ever instance of a romance as a major factor in a steampunk novel. The book starts out a little slow, but speeds up drastically after about the fifth chapter as the plot thickens and the mystery becomes more and more engaging. Mann's writing style can sometimes be a little sloppy, but he is the first author I've seen to successfully create and describe in print format an action scene which would usually be better suited for a movie. I understand that this is said all the time, but I truly was unable to put this book down!
Twisted_Helix More than 1 year ago
though not a great one. The plot reminds me a little of Gordon Dahlquist's Glass Books of the Dreameaters, although the plot of The Affinity Bridge is decidedly less strange. Here we have a feisty heroine and a flawed hero, AND (if that weren't enough), a solid sidekick. It's a little bit Sherlock Holmes and a little bit Amelia Peabody. Nonetheless, The Affinity Bridge is an easy, escapist, page turner; I finished it in seven hours, by the clock--and I am very much your average reader. It is promising, but it doesn't quite live up to it's promise. I found the characters a bit shallow and the dialog incongrous: highly purple Victoriana, coupled with modern colloqualisms. I think I understand what Mann was going for; the plot is steam-punkish. However, culture changes much slower than technology--as we witness everyday--and Mann doesn't really sell me that the language will have changed that much. Nor do I buy the other characters' easy acceptance of Veronica as a professional woman/buttkicker. Oh, that it were that easy: give us cars, airships, and robots, and we will give you universal human rights, just like that. But, that's not how it works, clearly. If you are going to do something like that, you've got to make it make sense in your world. Mann didn't. Yet, the plot's okay. The ending is neither surprising, nor is it unsurprising. The plot point having to do with Jack seems an afterthought more than anything and would probably have been best left out; it's a distraction. The whole book seems clearly a set-up for another novel with the same characters, and so it left me a little unsatisfied with this novel. Bottom line: If you like the steampunk genre or mysteries, it's worth a read, but it's not going to make you think. Then again, not everything has to.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1901 London, automatons have taken over most of the manual labor replacing humans. In that environs British Museum anthropologist Sir Maurice Newbury and his assistant Miss Veronica Hobbes investigate the crash of a zeppelin piloted by a cyborg in which pilot error is statistically impossible yet in this case somehow appears plausible. -------------- At the same time, a plague is spreading throughout the city's poorest sectors turning people into zombies. These revenants pose a major threat of destroying the British Empire from within. An expert on the occult, Maurice with Veronica's able help connects the two incidents in between Earl Grey time.-------------------- THE AFFINITY BRIDGE is an odd alternate earth historical thriller that combines elements of horror, science fiction and mystery in a London at the start of the twentieth century filled with robot and zombies; yet in some ways sort of remains the same as our earth as there is always time for a bit of tea. That combination adds some realism to the story line, but tea for two is fun for the participants however can be tedious to the reader. Still filled with plenty of blood, the occult and automatons, George Mann provides his audience with overall an enjoyable tale of a London out of control except for the tea time outs that seem mindful of Holmes-Watson.------- Harriet Klausner
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This book is serieously for 15+
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great steam punk book, full of Air Ships, and automata, with an element of horror throw in. This book is highly recommended.
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A great, fast moving steam punk adventure. Both the plot and the characters were well developed.
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Suspend disbelief. Good alternative reality read. Tedious in places but a good steam punk read over all.
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