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.