Monday, April 16, 2012

Pierce’s Picks: “The Candle Man”

A weekly alert for followers of crime, mystery, and thriller fiction.

The Candle Man, by Alex Scarrow (Orion UK):
Given all of the recent publicity surrounding the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking, it seems an ideal time for the release of this new thriller, which combines that disaster with a still older, more notorious historical episode. Since I haven’t yet read The Candle Man (it’s due out in Britain next week, and my copy has apparently been sidetracked in the public mails), here’s the publisher’s plot description:
1912. Locked in an eerily quiet dining room on the Titanic, a mysterious man tells a young girl his life story as the ship begins to sink. It all starts in Whitechapel, London, in 1888 ... In the small hours of the night in a darkened Whitechapel alley, young Mary Kelly stumbles upon a man who has been seriously injured and is almost unconscious in the gutter. Mary--down on her luck and desperate to survive--steals his bag and runs off into the night. Two days later, an American gentleman wakes in a hospital bed with no memory of who he is or how he got there. He has suffered a serious head injury, and with no one to help him remember who he is he starts to wonder how he will ever find his way home. One terrible truth links these two lost souls in the dark world of Victorian London--a truth that could ruin the name of the most influential man in the land ...

Back in 1912, as the
Titanic begins its final shuddering descent to the bottom of the frozen, black Atlantic, one man is about to reveal the truth behind a series of murders that have hung like a dark fog over London for more than two decades ... the identity of Jack the Ripper.
Blogger Ben Hunt once predicted that “by the end of 2007, Alex Scarrow, should be a star in the thriller world.” Well, I wouldn’t say that came true, and Scarrow is almost unknown in the States. But the Norwich, England, author has certainly turned out several cracking novels over the last few years, including Last Light and Afterlight. (He also pens the young-adult science-fiction series TimeRiders.) Combining the Titanic tragedy with the Whitechapel horror sounds like a recipe guaranteed to draw attention. I look forward to finding out whether the results measure up to this book’s potential.


Mike Ripley said...

I have read Candle Man - on the actual 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster - and enjoyed it very much. The 1912 Titanic incident simply tops and tails the story, which is a re-telling of the 1888 Jack the Ripper story in flashback with some familiar themes (Masons, crazy royal princes etc.) and a few new elements.
Alex Scarrow (brother of historical novelist Simon) is one of the most imaginative young thriller writers in the UK and I too predicted he would be much better known by now than he is. I do not understand why that is so or why his publishers (the othrewise excellent Orion) don't promote him more enthusiastically.

alex scarrow said...


I've struggled a little bit on that front. All I have is word-of-mouth, and reccomends from one person to another. So blogs and links to blog-mentions like this are basically what are keeping me in the writing business.

With that in mind, thanks very much for the mention here.


Alex Scarrow