Sunday, October 21, 2012


I finished reading this one the other day and it's a corker. THE OSIRIS RITUAL is the second novel in the steam punk/mystery series by British science fiction author George Mann. The series stars Sir Maurice Newbury and Miss Veronica Hobbes. They both work for the British Museum and they are both special agents of Queen Victoria. Imagine John Steed and Emma Peel, of the cult British television series THE AVENGERS, running around a 1902 London with steam driven technology and you've got a pretty good idea of what this series is like.
THE OSIRIS RITUAL picks up right where the first book in the series, THE AFFINITY BRIDGE (which I also read and enjoyed) leaves off. This one involves a "screaming" mummy, the disappearance of several young women, a rogue agent newly returned from assignment in Russia and a mad genius intent on practicing an arcane, ancient ritual that will bestow upon him eternal life.
All of these disparate elements eventually tie together but not before Mann has rung up a pretty decent body count. There's deduction aplenty along with some furiously paced action set pieces, one of which involves a rooftop chase, which takes to the streets of London before coming to a smashing climax in an underground subway tunnel. The final showdown between our heroes and villain takes place aboard a steam-driven submarine in the River Thames.
Added to the mix is a steam punk version of a cyborg (part human flesh, part mechanical man), a device for extracting organic material from human brains, Newbury's increasing reliance upon opium, Veronica's younger sister, Amelia, who suffers from debilitating visions of future events, Newbury's encounter with his predecessor (who has turned to the dark side) and a final revelation that both changes the relationship between Sir Maurice and Veronica and sets the stage for the next book in the series, THE IMMORALITY ENGINE (which I just started reading).
This is great, pulp adventure stuff. The action is well orchestrated, the period vividly realized, the mysteries perplexing and the characters compelling. Highly recommended.

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