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Tom-All-Alone's by Lynn Shepherd


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One of our Great Reads You May Have Missed in 2012.

Described by the author as an homage to Charles Dickens but also an incredibly well researched and re-imagined, gripping Victorian murder mystery based on his classic Bleak House. Where Dickens just hinted at Lynn Shepherd immerses you in a grim London underworld in which girls as young as ten work the night as prostitutes, unwanted babies are ruthlessly disposed of, and those who threaten the rank and reputations of great men are eliminated at once, and without remorse.

September 2012 Book of the Month.

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for Tom-All-Alone's a small number of Lovereading members were lucky enough to be invited to review this title - 'a very clever, extremely entertaining and highly addictive read and one I couldn’t recommend highly enough.' Scroll down to read more reviews.

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Tom-All-Alone's by Lynn Shepherd

The story of Tom-All-Alone's takes place in the 'space between' two masterpieces of mid-Victorian fiction: Bleak House and The Woman in White - overlapping with them, and re-imagining them for a contemporary reader, with a modern understanding of the grimmer realities of Victorian society.

Charles Maddox, dismissed from the police force, is working as a private detective and can only hope to follow in his uncle's formidable footsteps as an eminent thief-taker. On a cold and bright Autumn morning, a policeman calls on Charles at his lodgings with information that may be related to a case he is working on. He goes to a ruined cemetery to find a shallow grave containing the remains of four babies has been discovered. After examining them he concludes they are not related to his investigation, which is to find a young girl abandoned in a workhouse 16 years before, when her mother died. But all is not as it first appears. As he's drawn into another case at the behest of the eminent but feared lawyer, Edward Tulkinghorn, London's sinister underbelly begins to emerge. From the first gruesome murder, Charles has a race against time to establish the root of all evil. Tom's-All-Alone is 'Dickens but darker' - without the comedy, without the caricature, and a style all its own. The novel explores a dark underside of Victorian life that Dickens and Collins hinted at - a world in which young women are sexually abused, unwanted babies summarily disposed of, and those that discover the grim secrets of great men brutally eliminated.


Rebecca Kirkby - 'You feel transported to that time and completely immersed into what's happening... I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, was blindsided by the twist and disappointed when I finished it as I wanted to read more!'Click here to read the full review.

Amanda Donovan - 'I was immediately grabbed by the poetic style of writing, the Dickensian atmosphere and the feeling that I was walking the stench-filled streets of 19th century London with the protagonist, Charles Maddox.' Click here to read the full review.

Magda North - 'With a riveting plot, Tom-All-Alone’s can stand-all-alone as a compelling if, at times, uncomfortable read. Totally recommend.' Click here to read the full review.

Emma Halford -
' A pacy, atmospheric, nerve-jangling book that should top a good many ‘must-read’ lists.' Click here to read th full review.

Tom Allison
- 'Immensely atmospheric and enjoyable, one hopes we haven't seen the last of the would-be detective Charles Maddox.' Click here to read the full review.

Clare Topping - 'Tom-All-Alone’s was one of those rare books where I wanted to finish it to find out what happened but didn’t want it to end because I wanted to carry on reading it...recommended without hesitation.' Click here to read the full review.

Cathy Burman - 'A must read. This book transports the reader to Victorian London, enabling a fly on the wall experience.' Click here to read the full review.

Sarah Pybus -
'I’ve never been a big fan of Dickens, but on the strength of this novel, I’ll definitely be picking up Bleak House at some point.' Click here to read the full review.

Francesca Ashurst -
'Impeccably researched, revealing more of the dark side of London in the mid-19th century than we could imagine, Lynn Shepherd’s ‘Tom-All-Alone’s’ is a stunning novel.' Click here to read the full review.

Nicola Foster -
'This murder mystery immerses the reader into a Victorian London rife with transgression, prostitution and squalor. In a city full of powerful criminals, one man must work alone to catch a killer, no matter the risk to his own life.' Click here to read the full review.

Sue Broom - Beautifully written and a terrific plot - a delight for fans of detective stories set in 19th century London ... click here to read the full review.

Megan Olwen Williams - a very clever, extremely entertaining and highly addictive read and one I couldn’t recommend highly enough ... click here to read the full review.

Elaine Simpson-Long this is a well written, atmospheric book which pays tribute to Dickens and stands on its own merits. I loved it. Do read. – to read the full review visit her blog random jottings http://randomjottings.typepad.com

About the Author

Lynn Shepherd

Lynn Shepherd lives near Oxford, with her husband. She studied English at Oxford in the 1980s, and went back to do a doctorate in 2003. In between she spent 15 years in business, first in the City, and later in PR and has been a professional copywriter for the last ten years. She published her first novel Murder at Mansfield Park in 2010. Find out more on www.lynn-shepherd.com.

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Book Info

Publication date

6th September 2012


Lynn Shepherd

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Corsair an imprint of Constable and Robinson


320 pages


Literary Fiction
Books of the Month
Crime / Mystery
Historical Fiction
eBook Favourites
eBook Favourites

Historical fiction



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