The Somnambulist, by Jonathan Barnes, is a beautifully written dark mystery.
Edward Moon is a stage magician who occasionally does detective work on the side accompanied by his partner, the Somnambulist. Not having a case in a while, Moon has become complacent and bored with his life. So when a murder case is presented to him, Moon jumps at the chance to use his adept detective abilities. But for this strange case, Moon may have to call upon less than favorable characters for answers to his questions. Set in a dark and ominous London, Moon and the Somnambulist will come across a dangerous conspiracy that threatens the heart of London itself.
Narrated by a mysterious character with a distinct sense of humor, The Somnambulist is a cleverly written mystery with elements of fantasy. Written in the era of great detectives such as Sherlock Holmes, this dark, exciting story reminded me often of the movies The Prestige and The Illusionist. Though, The Somnambulist takes a decidedly unique tone towards the end. With imaginative and vivid characters, I found myself fascinated by each one and immersed in the narrative.
My favorite lines from the book are from the first paragraph:
“Be warned. This book has no literary merit whatsoever. It is a lurid piece of nonsense, convoluted, implausible, peopled by unconvincing characters, written in drearily pedestrian prose, frequently ridiculous and wilfully bizarre. Needless to say, I doubt you’ll believe a word of it.”
It’s that paragraph that had me hooked from the start! Look for The Somnambulist in bookstores everywhere February 5th.