Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Obsidian Dagger - Catherine Webb


Catherine Webb's The Obsidian Dagger: Being the Further Extraordinary Adventures of Horatio Lyle is the sequel to The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle (which I reviewed last August - and which was longlisted for the Cybils SF&F award). The Obsidian Dagger is a much darker book than "Horatio Lyle", and I think Catherine's made Horatio less Holmesian and more Doctor-ish (as in the lead character in "Doctor Who") - and I don't think that's just my current "Doctor Who" obsession talking. I marked a couple of passages in the book that read as if they'd come from a "Doctor Who" novel. I'm not suggesting plagiarism, let me make that clear, but influence. Horatio seems like the Doctor in his righteous anger at events endangering people about whom he cares.

Special constable Horatio Lyle has been ordered to investigate two mysterious deaths for Lord Lincoln. Lyle is aided and abetted by Tess (a former thief), Thomas (the son of Lord Elwick - a bigwig as Tess calls him) and Tate his dog. These are well-differentiated characters - we even occasionally see things from Tate's point of view. Lyle is a reluctant detective as he's far more interested in scientific experiments, and he uses a range of explosives and unpleasant chemicals to move his enemies out of the way. He has also developed, with Thomas' help, a primitive flying machine. This proves extremely useful when Thomas and Tess need to rescue Lyle. The plot is complicated and involves supernatural elements, including a mysterious character who's been transported from an island overseas in a stone coffin, and the stones of London themselves coming to life and re-shaping themselves.

There are some very humorous moments in this book, including this very funny line:

It is said that fortune favours the brave. Horatio Lyle, as the world filled with fireworks, smoke, noise and confusion, was of the increasing opinion that not only was this statement wrong, it was probably spread by malignant people hoping to prove by elimination that cowardice was the more favourable Darwinian characteristic.

This book was received for review from Atom books, the publisher.

8 comments:

Erin said...

Oh I'm so jealous, I want to read this! :)

Michele said...

Crikey Erin, that was a quick response !

I could lend you my copy of The Obsidian Dagger...

Sheila said...

Sounds great. I'm glad to know that Tess and Thomas are back. They're great characters. Unfortunately, the first one isn't even published in the U.S. yet, so it'll be a while before it gets here. When I make a dent in my current TBR, I might just ask you if you would send me one!

Michele said...

Sheila, I'd be happy to get a copy and send to you - just let me know when...

Erin, the same goes for you - I can easily pick up a copy and mail it to you...

Jen Robinson said...

Looking forward to reading this one. Thanks for the review.

Michele said...

It's a great book Jen, I hope you enjoy it. Catherine's already working on a third one too, I'm delighted to say.

Court said...

That passage is definiely one of my favourite ones from the book.

I found this book so much better than the first one - and I loved the first one, so that's saying something! I'm thoroughly looking forward to the third installment. :)

Though, I didn't get into my Dr. Who obsession until after I finished The Obsidian Dagger, so now I'm debating going back and rereading the book just to see if I can pick up on those similarities as well. ;)

Michele said...

Court, I agree with you that Obsidian Dagger is even better than Horatio Lyle, and I also loved the first one...

I've been assured that it's not just my "Doctor Who" obsession that's made me see those similarities between Horatio and the Doctor - which was something of a relief...