by Clare Clark
"It is 1855, and engineer William May has returned home to London and his beloved wife from the horrors of the Crimean War. When he secures a job transforming the city's sewer system, he believes it will prove his salvation, as, in the subterranean world beneath the city, he begins to lay his ghosts to rest. But when the peace of the tunnels is shattered by a violent murder William loses his tenuous hold on his sanity. Implicated as the killer, plagued by nightmares and visions, he is no longer sure: Could he truly have committed the crime?" (From the book jacket)
Ever since I read Clare Clark's The Nature of Monsters, I've wanted to read her debut novel, The Great Stink. I finally got around to it, and I'm so glad I did, despite the silly title. Don't let it fool you!
The plot does not move along quickly, which may bother readers who prefer a faster paced read. Clark likes to explore the darker side of life, and she does it in extraordinary detail. Her settings are not opulent homes and her characters are not the rich and elite. The lives that populate her books are often from the wrong side of the tracks. They endure physical and emotional hardships I could never imagine. They live in places and times I am forever thankful I never have to live. But their stories suck me into the mire with them, and for a few memorable hours I live and breathe along side those to whom life has dealt a bad hand and I watch anxiously, hoping they'll pull through but never certain the end will be what they deserve.
I have a thing for dark, creepy, brooding novels, and if Ms. Clark keeps up the way she has in her first two books, she is going to work her way into my personal top ten historical writers very, very quickly.
A side note: Wendy at Musings of a Bookish Kitty recently had a wonderful post which brings up the fate of animals in books. My motto when it comes to this topic: Do what you want to the girl, but leave the dog alone. :-) In honor of Wendy and others who have the same enormous soft spot we do, I will reveal only a small spoiler here that has little to do with the plot: **MINOR SPOILER** No need to distract yourself through the whole book wondering if the author will let something hideous happen to the dog, Lady, adopted by one of the main characters. She is fine in the end.
NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)
Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!