The basics: Set in 1854 London, Murder as a Fine Art is the story of a panicked London, as the someone is copying the horrifying Ratliffe Highway murders of 1811. Thomas de Quincey, known as the Opium-Eater, is immediately a suspect, as his recent essay Murder as a Fine Art details the 1811 crimes and speaks of them with reverence.
My thoughts: I was instantly transported to 1854 London as soon as I started this book. The first chapter immediately brings to life the grime and chaos of London; it also brings a savage set of homicides.
About two-thirds of the way through, I (correctly) figured out the killer, but this novel is not as much a whodunit as it as a whydunit. Morrell reveals the killer about three-fourths of the way through the novel. Much of the last quarter of the novel felt like a cinematic action sequence. While the entire novel was incredibly visual, the last part was even more. I even questioned how many action sequences stood between me and the end. I'm not opposed to action, but when the killer has been revealed and you're awaiting an emotional ending, the action sequences seemed to be an elongated distraction.
The verdict: Murder as a Fine Art is a compelling historical mystery that beautifully evokes its 1854 London setting. It's a thrilling and creepy glimpse into the mind of a killer, but it's also a poignant look at its moment in history.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 359 pages
Publication date: May 7, 2013
Source: publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Tours
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