The Vice Society

The Vice Society

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Inexplicable events are afoot in Victorian London. Inspector Albert Newsome of the Detective Force is investigating a curious death in Holywell Street . But what seems like a routine incident is complicated when the Inspector discovers that his ex-colleague George Williamson is also pursuing the case with the aid of a shady former criminal of his acquaintance: Noah Dyson.

The questions begin to multiply: Why are prostitutes being poisoned? Who is exerting pressure on the Commissioner of Police? What has the tragic death of Williamson’s wife, seven years before, to do with the crime? And who, or what, is ‘Persephone’?

From the gutter to the drawing room, from the sailor’s bar to the lunatic asylum, from the courtesan’s boudoir to the opium den, Williamson and his volatile allies must plunge into an underworld of labyrinthine squalor and corruption if they are to solve the tangled mystery.

Is The Vice Society a sequel?
It is the next book in a series featuring the same main characters – although not Lucius Boyle, for obvious reasons. They’ve moved on since the last adventure and we find each of them in different circumstances. However, a series of strange and sinister occurrences brings them together again, whether they like it or not.

So it will it appeal to fans of The Incendiary’s Trail?
Absolutely. I’ve taken the elements of the first book and magnified them. There’s more of everything: strange characters, atmospheric London scenes, shocking crime… and a few surprises.

Will the series continue?
I have just finished a third book for Pan Macmillan and I’m in the middle of research for the fourth. As you might expect, Williamson, Dyson and Newsome et al are discovering that the secrets of London are inexhaustible.

Is it true that The Vice Society is based on a real unsolved murder from the period that you discovered in contemporary newspapers?
Perhaps. I think that working out what’s real and imagined is part of the fun…

What is the background to the book?
Beneath everything else, there’s a question of morality and transgression in Victorian society. I did a lot of research into ‘indecent’ literature of the period, as well as the lives and habits of prostitutes. Most people have a natural sense of what is acceptable… but once you take the step into taboo areas of the soul, you start out on a path that can have only one inevitable end. Every character has a choice to make.

What else can we expect from the characters?
The important thing from my point of view is that they continue to develop and grow as they move through the books. Their experiences naturally change them, and their relationships with each other also alter. In this book, I think you really get to know them better.

Do you have a favourite character?
The truth is that they constantly surprise me. When I started out, I had clear ideas about each one and how they would speak and behave, but they seem to have taken on lives of their own. I like to spend time with them all, and I think there’s a bit of me in each of the main characters. To answer the question more specifically, I tend to favour whichever character I’m writing about that day – even the really bad ones. Williamson is so flawed and dark; Noah is my man of action; Benjamin is really a huge mystery; Sir Richard is the voice of authority and dependability. I even like the treacherous and double-dealing Inspector Newsome.

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