Doktor Glass by Thomas Brennan
In an age of Zeppelins and gyroplanes, atomics and horseless carriages, the Transatlantic Span is the industrial marvel of the nineteenth century. A monumental feat of engineering, the steel suspension bridge stretches across the Atlantic from Liverpool to the distant harbor of New York City, supported by no less than seven hundred towers. But in the shadows of its massive struts, on the docks of the River Mersey, lies a faceless corpse…
Inspector Matthew Langton is still seized with grief when he thinks of Sarah, his late wife. Tortured by nightmares and afflicted by breathless attacks of despair and terror, he forces himself to focus on the investigation of the faceless man. The victim wears the uniform of the Transatlantic Span Company but bears the tattoos of the Boers—could there be a Boer conspiracy to assassinate Queen Victoria on the upcoming Inauguration Day of the Span?
But the truth, as it begins to emerge, is far more bizarre than a political coup. As additional victims turn up—each with strange, twin burn marks on their necks—Langton draws a connection between the dead man beneath the bridge and chilling rumors of the Jar Bars, soul snatchers who come under cover of night. Most frightening of all is the mythic and elusive Doktor Glass, who may not only be behind the illicit trade in souls…but who may hold the key to what happened to the inspector’s own beloved wife on her deathbed…
Langton is still grieving, yet is back at work and assigned to investigate the murder of a man whose face was removed. But in trying to deal with his wife’s death, he begrudgingly visits a psychic and makes a startling discovery that leads to a clue about the faceless man. The setting is an alternate Victorian England, dark and eerie with a different science that merges science fiction and fantasy.
I thoroughly enjoyed the plot of this steampunk mystery, with its many suspects and twists. Fast-paced and difficult to put down, I followed along captivated till the very end. Though, I was taken aback when Langton confronts Doktor Glass, and a difficult choice in morality comes into play. I struggled right along with Langton. And though I don’t think I’d make the same choices, the book certainly succeeds in making the reader second-guess and ponder choices. Dark and somber, the mood of this Doktor Glass is a bit different along with its unique storyline.