I live north of Harbor Springs with two cats, Henry and Sarah, and a dog, Bailey. I read everything, but I especially enjoy mysteries, such as Anne Perry's Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels and science fiction, such as Terry Pratchett's Discworld books, seasoned with a little bit of Stephen King, and a dash of Robert Crais, with just a pinch of John Connolly. I also enjoy nonfiction, especially when it is about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.
The House of Scorpion raised so many questions about what it means to be human, not just with regard to the ethics of cloning, but also in terms of what rights all humans deserve and what qualifies someone to be given those rights.
In this sequel to that book, these questions play a central part. El Patron is dead and Matt, his clone, now rules Opium - if he can convince everyone around him that is he is the new Patron. At fourteen, Matt has to make decisions that are far beyond his life experience. His desire to enjoy the riches of Opium are counterbalanced by his memories of what it was like to be classified as non-human, stripped of all rights to life and liberty. Just as anyone might, Matt enjoys the prestige and deference that everyone shows to him. Yet the ugly truth that the subservience he receives comes not from admiration, but from artificial origins cannot be hidden from him. He knows more than anyone that the people around him are not exercising free will. As the new El Patron, Matt finds himself in control of the future of not only Opium and all who live there, but the Dope Confederacy as well. And not everyone around him is happy about that. Matt has the chance to change everything, but does he have the character to do so?
Nancy Farmer has created an entirely believable and frighteningly possible future, where the power of the drug lords makes all nations tremble. Matt's story takes place within a social-economic-political structure that gives this book such a rich and compelling background that the reader needs to pause frequently to consider what it means to be human.
It's 1889 and Jack the Ripper's horrifying murders appear to be over. No is really sure though, since the Metropolitan Police failed to capture him. As a result, Scotland Yard has formed "The Murder Squad." These twelve detectives are expected to solve not just all the murders within London, but also all serious crimes such as assault, armed robbery, and rape. Thousands of these crimes occur in the city every month. The squad faces contempt from every corner. The uniformed police rarely cooperate with them, the press makes jokes about them, and their commander doesn't even notice that one of them hasn't shown up to work for months.
The newest member of the squad, Detective Inspector Walter Day, has no idea why he has been assigned the squad. Imagine his surprise when he learns that he was personally chosen to join his comrades by Inspector Adrian March, the man who led the hunt for the Ripper and who was forced to leave Scotland Yard in shame when he failed to solve that case. Day is about to find out if he has what it takes to be a detective.
One of the members of the Murder Squad has himself been murdered and gruesomely trussed up in a trunk. Walter Day is assigned the case, since he was not personally acquainted with the victim. He receives help from unexpected people around him, including Dr. Bernard Kingsley, the Yard's pathologist who is pioneering the science of forensics.
Although this is his first written novel, (he is the author of the graphic novel series, Proof) Mr. Grecian captures the feel of Victorian London very well. His characters are genuine and engaging. Hopefully, Detective Inspector Day, Dr. Kingsley, Constable Hammersmith, and all the others will be back again.