Equally implausible and with almost as little regard for motive, James McCreet's splendid debut novel owes much to Charles Dickens's melodramatic style and subject matter. Victorian in both the setting and the telling, full of vividly depicted squalor and grotesquery, The Incendiary's Trail begins with the murder of conjoined twins. Abandoned at birth, the "unfortunate bicephaloid" Eliza-Beth, who is a member of an exploitative touring show of "Anatomical Wonders", has had one of her throats cut just as she is about to discover the secret of her parentage. Detective Williamson struggles to find the killer as the body count rises. The novel's spectacular set-pieces include a public hanging, a masked ball and a hot-air balloon chase. Well worth reading.
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