The Kingdom Of Bones by Stephen Gallagher (book review).

October 13, 2016 | By | Reply More

A Pinkerton detective, an immortal and a brave new world, such is ‘The Kingdom Of Bones’, in which our author Stephen Gallagher begins a series of adventures set around the turn of the twentieth century.


Sebastian Becker is a Pinkerton man with all the potential danger that this entails. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, his sister-in-law and his young son, Robert. He thinks he has a happy life but this is already his second life. As a young man, he was a policeman in England and a case there in the music halls turned his life and beliefs around. Now the past is coming back to haunt him.

In a boxing booth, Becker meets once again the theatrical manager, Tom Sayers, now eking out an existence as a prize-fighter, having fled from justice a long ago in England. Sayers wants to tell Becker the real story of what happened those years ago but he will put Becker’s settled life in disarray as he attempts to understands the unbelievable truth.

In 1888, when Becker was in England and a serving policeman, Sayers was the theatrical manager for Bram Stoker and nurse to an unrequited feeling for one of the troupe. A series of murders follows the repertory players around the circuit, until Sayers is condemned as the murderer. Although he escapes Becker in England, it is in Philadelphia 1903 where Becker sees him again and finally hears the truth.

In an exciting mix of social history and fantasy with the real life characters of Tom Sayers and Bram Stoker added in and embellished for fiction, this is a dark tale but is wrapped up in the very likeable story about Becker and his family troubles. His on-going story is as important as the rest of the plot and forms the basis for this popular series. There is a wealth of detail and research within the pages that nevertheless trip lightly along as the tale unfolds. As such it feels substantial with backgrounds fleshed out even down to the tea provided to theatrical lodgers in the late nineteenth century. It never feels stodgy, unlike the tea.

Becker’s story continues in excellent ‘The Bedlam Detective And The Authentic William James’.

Sue Davies

October 2016

(pub: Ebury Press, 2012. 464 page paperback. Price: £ 6.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-09195-013-2)

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Category: Books, Fantasy, Horror

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