I gave Back Home 5* out of 5*
It is with thanks to both Tom Williams and Rosie Amber that I received this book as part of #RBRT for a fair review.
The final thrilling instalment in the Williamson Papers, set in a superbly drawn Victorian London. Back in England after surviving the horrors of Cawnpore, John Williamson returns to his hometown. On looking up an old friend, he finds the man hasn’t been heard of since his departure to London, the glamorous capital of the British Empire. Concerned for his friend’s safety, Williamson follows him to the metropolis, where he has fallen into bad company and now dwells in the notorious rookery of Seven Dials. Worse still, the intelligence services are on his trail, convinced that something worse than petty criminality is occurring in the slum: that foreign subversives are at work there, with catastrophic designs on Britain herself. Blackmailed into helping the investigation, can Williamson manage to save his friend from certain death – and survive himself, in a world that condemns him for his sexuality?
This is a brilliant read; a fascinating story tale of mystery in the slums of Victorian London. And the research done by Tom Williams into the social, business, industrial changes of this era and the study of the environment of both city and countryside is both obvious and admirable
As this is the third of John Williamson’s story and, as I have yet to read the first two books, I appreciated the explanatory Foreword; a very useful summary for the reader a good account of the protagonist’s previous life and background that immediately brings the character to life. It made it easier for me to begin to understand his motivations and decisions.
Told in the first person point of view of the protagonist this is a man who has lived for many years in different countries and, although now rich and respected, his return to Britain becomes fraught with many dangers.
The dialogue, especially the internal dialogue of John Williamson is excellent. Although, in many circumstances, ‘showing’ any action, detailing parts of a story, is a preferable way of writing, in this novel the ‘telling ‘ is essential and adds to rounding out the character. And the dialogue and language of the other characters give a real flavour of the era and their status in society.
The sense of place is evoked succinctly through both the words of the protagonist and the descriptions; the atmosphere of despair, the bleakness of the world of these characters, the depths of poverty, conspiracies and lack of morals underpins the whole of the book. There is even an appearance of Karl Marx to add authenticity to the times.
I loved everything about Back Home and have no hesitation in recommending this book.