The Immorality Engine (Newbury & Hobbes Investigation #3)

The Immorality Engine (Newbury & Hobbes Investigation #3)

3.9 13
by George Mann
     
 

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On the surface, life is going well for Victorian special agent Sir Maurice Newbury, who has brilliantly solved several nigh-impossible cases for Queen Victoria with his indomitable assistant, Miss Veronica Hobbes, by his side. But these facts haven't stopped Newbury from succumbing increasingly frequently to his dire flirtation with the lure of opium. His addiction

Overview

On the surface, life is going well for Victorian special agent Sir Maurice Newbury, who has brilliantly solved several nigh-impossible cases for Queen Victoria with his indomitable assistant, Miss Veronica Hobbes, by his side. But these facts haven't stopped Newbury from succumbing increasingly frequently to his dire flirtation with the lure of opium. His addiction is fueled in part by his ill-gotten knowledge of Veronica's secret relationship with the queen, which Newbury fears must be some kind of betrayal. Veronica, consumed by worry and care for her prophetic but physically fragile sister Amelia, has no idea that she is a catalyst for Newbury's steadily worsening condition.

Veronica and Newbury's dear friend Bainbridge, the Chief Investigator at Scotland Yard, tries to cover for him as much as possible, but when the body of a well known criminal turns up, Bainbridge and Veronica track Newbury down in an opium den and drag him out to help them with the case. The body is clearly, irrefutably, that of the man in question, but shortly after his body is brought to the morgue, a crime is discovered that bears all the dead man's hallmarks. Bainbridge and Veronica fear someone is committing copycat crimes, but Newbury is not sure. Somehow, the details are too perfect for it to be the work of a copycat. But how can a dead man commit a crime?


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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Mann turns out a riveting page-turner that mixes the society of manners in turn-of-the-century London with a gritty and brutal murder mystery. And in the midst of all this, automatons clank about, zombies lurk in the night and dirigibles float majestically in the sky—until they crash and burn…. Will leave readers clamoring for the next book.” —AM New York on 'The Affinity Bridge'

“A science fantasy novel that should appeal to lovers of both genres. One of the biggest surprises of the year, and I can't recommend the book enough.” —Fantasy Book Critic on The Affinity Bridge

“Steampunk is making a comeback, and with this novel Mann is leading the charge…. An engaging melodrama that rattles along at a breakneck pace.” —The Guardian on The Affinity Bridge

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429985260
Publisher:
Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
09/27/2011
Series:
Newbury & Hobbes Series , #3
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
314,688
File size:
391 KB

Read an Excerpt



The Immorality Engine

CHAPTER 1
The soft loam sucked at his boots, thick and oozing, as if trying to pull him down into its slick, waterlogged depths, down amongst the corpses and the coffins and the dead. Newbury shifted, looking for somewhere even remotely dry to stand. All around him the ground was clotted with mud, made worse by the incessant rain that pattered like a drumbeat upon the brim of his hat. Mist, rising from the warm earth, curled around the forest of listing headstones, clinging to the trees and shrubs and casting the entire scene in an eerie, ethereal shroud. Figures moved like shadows, all dressed in black, their pale faces hidden behind veils or hands.
Nearby, crows were picking at the stringy flesh of a dead fox beneath the shelter of an ancient oak tree. Newbury watched them with a grim fascination.
Around the huddled group of mourners, aperimeter of uniformed bobbies stood like ghostly sentries, half-visible in the vaporous morning, there to ward off roaming Revenants and other unsavoury things that loomed unseen in the shadows.
Graveyards such as this one had become the hunting ground of the soon-to-be-dead. Newbury wondered if perhaps the Revenants felt a kinship with the recently interred, or whether it was simply the lure of warm bodies that drew them in; people gathered in a quiet place, unsuspecting and too lost in their mourning to notice the shambling approach of the plagueridden flesh eaters. He supposed it didn't really matter. Either way, he wasn't convinced a handful of bobbies would be able to stop the creatures if they decided to attack.
He looked around at the faces in the small crowd. There were six people attending the funeral. He couldn't help thinking there should have been more. He watched their unmoving shapes, hulked low against the torrential rain. They were there to bury Amelia Hobbes.
Newbury tried to listen to the words of the vicar, who conducted his sermon in a solemn, monotonous voice at the side of the grave. Beside him, a small altar boy clutched an umbrella as shelter for the holy man, but was bearing the brunt of the weather himself, soaked to the bone, his once-white robes now splashed with mud and dirt. A large pile of earth was heaped neatly beside the coffin-shaped hole, ready to be replaced once the ceremony was over. The scent of it filled Newbury's nostrils, fresh and damp.
Across from Newbury stood Mr. and Mrs. Hobbes, the parents of both the dead girl and her older sister, Miss Veronica Hobbes, Newbury's assistant, who stood beside him,unwilling to lift her face to meet their judgemental glares. Currently, the faces of the two middle-aged socialites were obscured, wreathed in drifting mist, but Newbury had spoken to them earlier and had seen only relief in their eyes. Relief to be free of the burden of their strange, tortured daughter: the girl who could see into the future.
Newbury had shaken their hands and offered his condolences, and had tried not to judge them too harshly. But having seen the manner in which they behaved towards Veronica, he had not been able to suppress a feeling of righteous indignation. It was clear to him that they were interested only in themselves, their fortune, and their reputation, and that their children were nothing but ornaments to be seen and admired. Amelia, broken, had been hidden away from prying society, moved from asylum to asylum, hospital to hospital, until only recently when Newbury himself had intervened, calling on the mercy of Her Majesty the Queen to have the unfortunate girl taken into the private care of Dr. Lucien Fabian, the Queen's personal physician.
Fabian's efforts had been an abject failure, but Newbury knew there was far more to it than that. The whole matter had been a terrible travesty, a betrayal of the worst kind. And of course Fabian wasn't here to see his charge put in the ground.
On the other hand, Dr. Mason, the man who had looked after Amelia during much of her decline, in the period preceding her transfer to Fabian's Grayling Institute, was in attendance. He seemed more concerned for Veronica than he did for himself, his eyes trained on her throughout the service. Newbury decided this was an admirable trait, althoughhe couldn't help feeling a spark of annoyance at the other man's attention.
To Newbury's right was Sir Charles Bainbridge, Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard, fellow agent to the Queen, and his dear friend. Bainbridge was older than Newbury by a decade, approaching his late forties, and he walked with a cane, his left foot damaged during some long-ago adventure. He wore a bushy grey moustache and a stiff top hat and looked bedraggled by the weather, even huddled beneath a heavy winter overcoat. He was staring into the hazy distance, lost in his own thoughts.
Newbury glanced at Veronica, who stood to the left of him. She was clearly distraught, sobbing openly, her head bowed. Her dark hair was lank and wet, clinging to her pale cheeks, but she seemed oblivious to the weather. The rain could do little to disguise the tears that streamed freely down her face.
Newbury looked up at the sound of footsteps. The pallbearers were approaching with the coffin.
Newbury moved closer to Veronica as they watched the men lower the coffin into the slick, waterlogged hole in the ground. Veronica stifled a single sob. The vicar continued to drone on, talking now of birth and resurrection. Newbury sighed. Birth and resurrection. That was what this was all about, one way or another.
The six pallbearers retreated slowly from the sides of the grave, their boots squelching in the sticky mud. Veronica stepped forwards, grabbed a handful of soil from the muddy bank, and cast it into the hole. "Good-bye," she said solemnly, then turned her back on the grave to face Newbury, a defiant gleam in her eyes.
Newbury watched her parents over her shoulder as they mumbled disapprovingly to each other. He smiled at Veronica, trying not to let her see his disdain. "Come on. Let's get you out of this dreadful rain, Miss Hobbes."
Veronica nodded silently. Her eyes were rimmed with red, her face forlorn. Abandoning all sense of propriety, Newbury stepped forwards and wrapped his arms around her shoulders, pulling her close. "Veronica. Come now, before you catch a chill." He whispered quietly in her ear. "This place will do you no good."
She leaned in closer to him, resting her head on his shoulder. He felt her body shaking with tears. For a moment, it seemed to Newbury as if they were alone in that sad, misty place; the other figures, all dressed in black, became nothing but inky smudges, hazy and out of focus. At that moment, only Veronica mattered.
Newbury led Veronica gently away from the congregation and towards the row of waiting carriages, nodding once at Bainbridge, whose face was creased with concern and infinite sadness.
Newbury did not look back again as he helped Veronica step up into the carriage and climbed in after her, dripping rainwater over the seats. He sat beside her, taking her hand in his own. "Lead on, Driver."
The drumming of the raindrops on the roof drowned out any response from the man hunched on the dickey box outside, but the horses juddered suddenly into motion, knocking Newbury and Veronica back into their seats. The wheels creaked as the carriage eased away into the foggy morning.
Copyright © 2011 by George Mann

Meet the Author

George Mann edited the Solaris Book of New Science Fiction anthology series and is the author of a number of fiction and nonfiction books, including The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. The first two Newbury&Hobbes Investigations, The Affinity Bridge and The Osiris Ritual, were his first novels.
GEORGE MANN is the author of the Newbury&Hobbes Investigations, beginning with The Affinity Bridge, and other works of fiction including Ghosts of Manhattan and official Doctor Who tie-in material. He edited the Solaris Book of New Science Fiction anthology series and The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

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Immorality Engine 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Although special agent Sir Maurice Newbury and his assistant Miss Veronica Hobbes have solved some complex cases (see The Osiris Ritual), he has turned to opium. Part of his rationalization is the drug gives him psychic powers. However, deep down he knows the cause is his belief that his sidekick is an informer to Queen Victoria. In fact Veronica remains clueless that she is a prime cause for her partner's addiction as her focus is on her frail sister Amelia who suffers from seizures that include prophecies. At the Grayling Institute, Dr. Lucien Fabian provides Amelia with special experimental care to induce her visions. Scotland Yard Chief Investigator Sir Charles Bainbridge drags Newbury from an opium den to identify a murder victim; the CH believes the corpse is that master thief Edwin Sykes. Newbury confirms the deceased is Sykes, but something seems off kilter though he is unsure what. When a robbery that only Sykes could have done with the technology deployed leaves the three sleuths stunned. The third Victorian Newbury-Hobbes mystery is an exciting alternate historical thriller. The lead protagonists have personal issues as he has become an opium eater and she is paralyzed by fears for her failing sister. The Sykes enigma is deftly handled as The Immortality Engine is a wonderful steampunk who and how investigation; vastly different yet as much fun as the occult themed The Osiris Ritual. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was generally interesting, and certainly had some most unbelievable medcical as well as scientific experiments in it that bordered on the insane. Not as exciting as the Affinity Bridge, however. Had it's low and slow points, as well as high drama now and then. Some expectations not quite fulfilled insofar as the planned attack on the Queen's residence. Also, the vision of Amila's near the end, which sort of leaves one hanging and wondering. Maybe the answer will yet be forthcoming in another novel. Overall, not a bad read, and certainly well worth the price of admission.
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always3 More than 1 year ago
Newbury & Hobbes are into another mystery in this popular Steampunk series from George Mann. This is the third book in the “A Newbury & Hobbes Investigation” series with the other two books being “The Affinity Bridge” and “The Osiris Ritual” BOTH RECOMMENDED In this book we run into Newbury & Hobbes’s favourite crook Edwin Sykes. Edwin is so smart that even though Newbury believes he is a master criminal he has never been able to prove it. Now Sykes has pulled off the impossible in that while his body was lying in the morgue he has committed another jewellery theft. All that was found on Sykes body was a card for Packworth House where the Bastion Society meets. All the signs point to Sykes having done the theft, however he was dead at the time ?? Just a minor problem to Newbury who, with his capable assistant Miss Veronica Hobbes, is on the case. Miss Hobbes sister Amelia is under the care of Doctor Fabian, at the Grayling Institute, who is developing some type of machine for the queen. When a second Edwin Sykes is found murdered at the site of a jewellery heist things Newbury is thrown for a loop until he finds that the first Sykes body is in fact a copy of the original. Where would Sykes get the money or expertise to copy himself, and to what end ? In the meantime Inspector Bainbridge of Scotland Yard has been helping them on the case until he is called away to meet with the Queen after an unsuccessful assassination attempt on her life. This then becomes Inspector Bainbridge’s top priority. This leaves Newbury & Hobbes to determine how two Edwin Sykes came to be. After following some leads to the Bastion Society of which at one time Doctor Fabian was a member of they determine they must get inside to determine what is really going on there.. In an attempt to find out what is happening at Grayling Institute and check in on Amelia, who can see the future, Newbury and Hobbes arrange a meeting. Newbury ,directly with Doctor Fabian, and Miss Hobbes to sneak into the institute, to talk to her sister Amelia. When Miss Hobbes does sneak in she gets turned around and opens the door to a room that has 20 copies of her sister. All are in a stupor and mumbling about future events. What is Doctor Fabian doing with these copies ? What is his master plan ? And what can Newbury and Hobbes do to stop it . At the same time Inspector Bainbridge is attacked after leaving the Palace however is able to fend off his assailants. In the meantime Newbury and Hobbes are sure that there are answers at Packworth House and specifically from the Bastion Society. After breaking in they find over 100 dead bodies in a room upstairs in Packworth House and some of the bodies they recognize as copies of members of the Bastion Society. They are completely at a loss as to what this all means and are soon captured and locked into a dungeon in the basement. Newbury has since found out from the head of the Bastion Society that in fact the society is making plans to eliminate the Queen as it goes against their ideology for her to still be alive being assisted through mechanical means. Newbury and Hobbes do escape and find out what the Societies true plans are and do their best to rescue Amelia and deal with the Bastion society and Doctor Fabian Mann fills his world with as many Steampunk attributes as he can including the Queen hooked up to an artificial life support system and steam powered everything. Another gre
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interesting play between title characters...good plotline...will buy the fourth if/when available
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