Madmen see monsters – and monsters hide in plain sight
From a basement office in London’s notorious Bethlehem Hospital, Sebastian Becker investigates wealthy eccentrics whose dubious mental health may render them unable to manage their own affairs. His interview with rich landowner Sir Owain Lancaster, whose sanity has been in question since a disastrous scientific adventure in the Amazon killed his family and colleagues, coincides with the disappearance of two young local girls. When the children are found slain, Lancaster claims that the same dark forces that devastated his family have followed him home. It is not the first time that children have come to harm in his rural countryside town, though few are willing to speak of incidents from the past. Becker must determine whether this mad nobleman is insane and a murderer, or if some even more sinister agency is at work.
Struggling on his small salary, and with unexpected help from a son who needs special care, Becker and his wife make sacrifices so Becker can stay on the case after an innocent man is convicted of the crime. The answers he seeks may be found with the assistance of the local investigator and a young suffragette who fled Arnmouth, but couldn’t flee the horrors she encountered there.
From dank asylums to the lush and treacherous Amazon, through the makeshift studios of the early film industry and a traveling fair of freaks and illusions, Sebastian Becker’s search for answers brings him face to face with madmen and monsters, both imagined and real. Confronting immense danger in his hunt for the truth, he will explore murder, tragedy, and the tempestuous depths of his own mind.
About the Author
STEPHEN GALLAGHER is a novelist, screenwriter, and director, the author of fourteen novels, including Nightmare, with Angel; The Kingdom of Bones; and Red, Red Robin. He is a British Fantasy Award and International Horror Guild Award winner, and a Stoker and World Fantasy Award nominee.
"A thriller, but with a literary depth unusual in the genre, and fascinating in the complexity of its construct. Gallagher’s prose is swift, sure, and occasionally darkly comedic…Three words of advice: read this book.” —Historical Novel Society, Editors' Choice
“Masterful whodunit…Gallagher’s superior storytelling talents bode well for future adventures starring the well-rounded Becker.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Monsters, actual and metaphorical, are at the heart of this superbly crafted thriller....Gallagher loves character development but respects plotting enough to give it full measure. The result is that rare beast, a literary page-turner." –Kirkus, starred review
“The story moves easily between present and past events, leading to a conclusion that is as perfectly logical as it is surprising…Intricately drawn characters, carefully shaded depictions of events and situations, and an excellent sense of pacing…This is a real page-turner, and fans will hope to see more of Sebastian Becker in the future. It may also attract readers who enjoy historical thrillers in the Caleb Carr tradition.” –Library Journal
“Gallagher's great character development and clever plotting has created a great result: A rare literary masterpiece for the lovers of historical crime fiction.” -MysteryTribune.com
“Gallagher’s latest is a great thriller/mystery with a unique character premise. I would love to see this developed into a series.” –Becky Lejeune, BookBitch.com
“Riveting…highly recommended.” –Charles DeLint, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
Praise for Steven Gallagher:
“Perhaps the finest contemporary British thriller writer.” –GQ
“Stephen Gallagher shows the occult mystery in its best light.” –New York Times Book Review
“Gallagher has quietly become Britain's finest popular novelist, working a dark seam between horror and the psychological thriller.” –Arena
“The finest British writer of bestselling popular fiction since le Carre... Gallagher, like le Carre, is a novelist whose themes seem to reflect something of the essence of our times, whose skill lies in embedding those themes in accessible plots.” –The Independent, London
"A master of pace and suspense, Gallagher has the dark, neon-splashed imagination of a true original." –Glasgow Evening Times
"Gallagher is a master of abnormal psychology and he just gets better and better." –Mystery Scene
“If thriller-reading were a sin, Stephen Gallagher would be responsible for my ultimate damnation.” –Dean R. Koontz