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Inspector of the Dead

Inspector of the Dead

4.8 6
by David Morrell

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"A masterful work."--Associated Press

The year is 1855. The Crimean War is raging. The incompetence of British commanders causes the fall of the English government. The Empire teeters.

Amid this crisis comes opium-eater Thomas De Quincey, one of the most notorious and brilliant personalities of Victorian England. Along with his irrepressible


"A masterful work."--Associated Press

The year is 1855. The Crimean War is raging. The incompetence of British commanders causes the fall of the English government. The Empire teeters.

Amid this crisis comes opium-eater Thomas De Quincey, one of the most notorious and brilliant personalities of Victorian England. Along with his irrepressible daughter, Emily, and their Scotland Yard companions, Ryan and Becker, De Quincey finds himself confronted by an adversary who threatens the heart of the nation.

This killer targets members of the upper echelons of British society, leaving with each corpse the name of someone who previously attempted to kill Queen Victoria. The evidence indicates that the ultimate victim will be Victoria herself. As De Quincey and Emily race to protect the queen, they uncover long-buried secrets and the heartbreaking past of a man whose lust for revenge has destroyed his soul.

Based on actual attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria, Inspector of the Dead brilliantly merges historical fact with fiction, bringing a bloody chapter of Victorian England to vivid, pulse-pounding life.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 01/12/2015
Fans of sophisticated historicals will embrace Macavity Award–winner Morrell’s second suspense novel featuring Thomas De Quincey and his grown daughter, Emily (after 2013’s Murder as a Fine Art). In 1855, just as the British are dealing with the collapse of the government following revelations of mismanagement during the Crimean War, London suffers a reign of terror. After murdering the servants of a Mayfair lord’s household, a killer manages the seemingly impossible crime of slitting the throat of Lady Cosgrove in her private pew in St. James’s Church. A note near her corpse contains only the words Young England, a reference to a group of conspirators assassin Edward Oxford claimed were behind his attempt on Queen Victoria’s life in 1840. The murders continue, in settings apparently selected to show Londoners that they aren’t safe anywhere, and with a savagery that suggests a personal motive for the bloody spree. Impressively, Morrell even manages to introduce some humor into his grim tale, as shown by a scene in which De Quincy shocks Lord Palmerston by admitting he once told George III a lie. Convincing period detail complements the fascinating story line. Agent: Jane Dystel, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Mar.)
Library Journal
This sequel to Murder as a Fine Art, set in London in 1855, reunites the team of Thomas De Quincey (Confessions of an Opium Eater), his daughter Emily, and police officers Ryan and Becker. From the shockingly brutal murders at the start to the stunning conclusion, De Quincey and his fellow investigators race against time to discover who is killing prominent Londoners as a prelude to assassinating Queen Victoria. Is the plot a conspiracy to overthrow the monarchy or a more personally motivated attack on society? De Quincey applies psychological theories and techniques to the crimes, reflective of his genius and his decidedly different view of reality. VERDICT Morrell's skillful use of the literary elements of Victorian sensation novels, especially the third-person omniscient narrator who presents tidbits of 19th-century life, enhance the appeal of this thriller to fans of historical fiction and Victorian-era crime novels as well as readers who enjoy Anne Perry or Robin Paige. De Quincey is the most fascinating character in the novel, provoking interest in his real-life exploits. [See Prepub Alert, 9/22/14.]—Barbara Clark-Greene, Groton P.L., CT
School Library Journal
This follow-up to Murder as a Fine Art (2014) is set in 1855 while England is in the midst of the Crimean War. It opens with The Opium-Eater, Thomas De Quincey, and his daughter Emily leaving town, but a gruesome murder during a church service, seemingly connected to a rebel group committed to killing Queen Victoria, changes their plans. De Quincey is still addicted to laudanum, yet his skill at seeing connections, patterns, and possibilities that others miss is as strong as ever. The murders continue, each one more gruesome and artistically staged than the last. Teaming up again with Inspector Ryan and Detective Sergeant Becker, the De Quinceys work to untangle the motivation behind the murders and find the killer. The story is enriched by the weaving of historical facts into the narrative: the grinding failures of the Crimean War; the rigid, oppressive class divisions in London; and the multiple assassination attempts on Queen Victoria's life are all integral to the plot. The inclusion of some history of crime scene investigation practices enriches the story. Although it is a sequel, the book also stands alone. Teens will enjoy contrasting the class and culture stereotypes as well as expectations of women of the time with current-day ideas. VERDICT The narrative's drama, tension, and plot twists make this a likely hit with readers looking for grisly murder mysteries or compelling historical fiction.—Carla Riemer, Claremont Middle School, CA
Kirkus Reviews
God save the queen—or failing that, send in the opium sot.Morrell's sequel to his Victorian-era thriller, Murder as a Fine Art (2013), finds Thomas De Quincey, the scandalous opium-addicted author, again embroiled in a lurid series of murders as he employs his unique psychological and philosophical insights in an investigation of the slayings of prominent members of English society. Aided by his progressive-minded daughter, Emily, and two stalwart detectives of Scotland Yard, De Quincey makes for an offbeat but entirely credible protagonist in the Sherlock Holmes mold. Morrell deftly blends actual historical persons and events—De Quincey remains well-known for his proto-addiction memoir, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, and Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are major characters—with the morbid thrills of a contemporary serial-killer narrative as the victims are arranged in grotesque tableaux, each bearing a letter naming various failed assassins of Queen Victoria and referencing a secret society known as Young England, a terrorist organization bent on the overthrow of the British government. It's a potent formula, with genuine thrills and a satisfying mystery leavened with well-observed and meticulously researched details of Victorian life and attitudes. The villain is sympathetically drawn, with clearly defined and understandable motivations, and De Quincey's team of intrepid investigators is a cracklingly compelling group of misfits and damaged heroes. Morrell also entertainingly plays with formal conventions, recalling the tropes of Victorian "sensation novels," and the whole enterprise is ripping good fun at every delicious twist and turn.A propulsive, richly imagined yarn that never loses steam or insults the reader's intelligence.
From the Publisher
"Riveting . . . Inspector of the Dead is a masterful work."—Waka Tsunoda, Associated Press

"Taut, atmospheric . . . Morrell brings the period to vivid life with solid research and fascinating Victorian details. . . . Grade: A-"—Michelle Ross, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Superb . . . Masterful . . . Edgar Allan Poe may have invented the modern detective story, but now David Morrell has reinvented it. He's turned thriller writing into a concerto worthy of Mozart and conducts the brilliant Inspector of the Dead with perfect pitch and tone. A true maestro wielding a keyboard instead of a baton."—Jon Land, Providence Journal

"Morrell's narrative is clever and layered. . . . Psychology and back story have always figured in Morrell's considerable output of thrillers, including his landmark First Blood. In the De Quincey stories, these narrative tools seem fully mastered."—Bill Kohlhaase, Santa Fe New Mexican

"With this mesmerizing series, David Morrell doesn't just delve into the world of Victorian England--he delves into the heart of evil, pitting one man's opium-skewed brilliance against a society where appearances are everything . . . and the most vicious killers lurk closer than anyone thinks."—Lisa Gardner, author of Crash & Burn and The Perfect Husband

"An exciting page-turner . . . A fulfilling read."—Mark Fraunfelder, BoingBoing.net

"Morrell weaves a true web of lies, secrets, and cunning schemes that gives readers the sense that they are actually living and breathing the air of historical England. . . . Morrell yet again shows that his character creation is second to none, and the pace will have readers losing sleep by telling themselves, 'Just one more chapter.'"—Suspense Magazine

Product Details

Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
Thomas and Emily De Quincey Series , #2
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.60(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

David Morrell is an Edgar, Anthony, and Macavity nominee and recipient of the prestigious career-achievement Thriller Master award from the International Thriller Writers organization. He has written twenty-nine works of fiction and been translated into thirty languages. He is a former literature professor at the University of Iowa and received his PhD from Pennsylvania State University.

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Inspector of the Dead 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
ritr3 More than 1 year ago
What a great find! Inspector of the Dead is a well-structured plot, a beautiful delivery of narration and tone, with strong characters imbued with personality and motivation. Progressing moments are well transitioned, and each segment cleanly and cleverly flows from one beat to the next. Liberal sprinkles of British history and intricate relationships between Emily, Becker, Ryan and DeQuincey are rolled up into a hugely entertaining read. I particularly enjoyed that the author did not blatantly provide character exposition and intention. Morrell skillfully guided me along to discover character intent on my own. This story is so absorbing that it will be difficult to bookmark a page if you have an interruption. Don’t miss a sentence because Lord Palmerston tosses in lines that are completely in character, really funny, yet darkly representative of the times. This author is now up on my historical fiction favorites right along with Anna Lee Huber, R. Michael Phillips, Susanna Calkins and Anne Perry.
BooksandBenches More than 1 year ago
I'll admit that I wanted to read this book based solely on the cover, but the true prize is between the pages. Thomas De Quincey is more fascinating as a character in Morrell's book than the real man. Layers of mystery unravel as we follow De Quincey through the wretched streets of London and into the lives of the upper classes. The secondary characters are a delightful surprise as each one crops up, adding a new dimension to the story. A remarkable blend of history, murder, and thrills, all executed seamlessly. This was my first David Morrell book, but it won't be my last. Thriller meets Victorian England in Inspector of the Dead, and I don't believe readers will be disappointed. *This book was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read. One of those stories you really hate getting to the end! Wish it was longer! Nice plot with a few really interesting twists you may not see coming! Looking forward to the next of these great characters from this great author!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I devoured this novel in a night and day. Oh how I wish it had been longer. The author writes like a demon. Do buy this, it is terrific. I am signing off now so I can search out and buy the first of this series.
druidgirl More than 1 year ago
This follows the authors Murder as a Fine Art. Thomas de Quiney ,is the notorious OpiumEater. Mr de Quiney and his daughter Emily are still in London after solving previous crimes, de Quiney is a real life laudanum filled writer. If you want to learn about England in the 1850"s. The are bloody murders by a group of people who want to kill Queen Victoria. If you enjoy British mysteries read this one now. I received this book in exchange for and honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good follow-up to the first book. Slightly less impact than the first book but I very much look forward to the next one. In my opinion, this series significantly stands out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago