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The Revenant Express
Newbury & Hobbes Investigation #5
by George Mann
Tor, $26.99, 240
Published: February 2019

The grand adventure continues in George Mann's Newbury & Hobbes steampunk mystery series, as a Victorian special agent races across a continent to save his beloved's life onboard The Revenant Express.

Sir Maurice Newbury is bereft as his trusty assistant Veronica Hobbes lies dying with a wounded heart. Newbury and Veronica's sister Amelia must take a sleeper train across Europe to St. Petersberg to claim a clockwork heart that Newbury has commissioned from Faberge to save Veronica from a life trapped in limbo.

No sooner do they take off then sinister goings-on start to plague the train, and it is discovered that an old villain, thought dead, is also onboard and seeking revenge. Can Newbury and Amelia defeat him and get the clockwork organ back to the Fixer in time to save Veronica? And can they do so without Newbury going so far into the dark side of occult magic that he can never return?

Meanwhile, Sir Charles Bainbridge is the only one of their team left in London to struggle with a case involving a series of horrific crimes. Someone is kidnapping prominent men and infecting them with the Revenant plague, leaving them chained in various locations around the city. But why?

It's a rousing chase to save both London and Veronica. Will these brave detectives be up to the task?

While Newbury is off on a different task, Veronica and Sir Charles investigate a mysterious body, an apparent victim of the Revenant plague whose body is blooming with mysterious plant growth. A secondary investigation of missing nurses seems to be linked to the body Veronica and Sir Charles are investigating. We then skip ahead into the future when Newbury and Veronica’s sister Amelia board a train to St Petersburg Russia to acquire a clockwork heart to save Veronica. There are those trying to stop them, as is witnessed by the dead body left in their cabin which they barely dispose of before being caught. Additionally, the opulent train is fueled by burning the bodies of Revenant plague victims and when a fireman gets infected things get dicey as the race is on to save themselves as well as Veronica.

The narrative alternates between Newbury and Amelia’s train trip to save Veronica and the earlier events that show us the events leading up to a major plot matter in this book. Several things are presented as a “given” such as the Revenant plague and a scheming Queen Victoria with a hold over Veronica but even without reading the immediately preceding books the narrative is easy follow.  I intend to look up the others and start this series from the beginning. ~~ Stephanie L Bannon

For more titles by George Mann click here

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