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First time novelist Ginn Hale has created a world so tangible, so complete, that I felt as if I could smell, see, taste and feel everything right along with her characters. The basic premise, an alternate reality resembling a gaslit, Victorian England wherein a corrupt theocracy has called up the descendants of ancient Biblical demons Prodigals with promises of redemption only to ghettoize and oppress them, comments on a number of modern day social ills but never comes across as obviously didactic or preachy.
In addition it has a complex plot, part mystery and part thriller, that's never short on nailbiting moments. But for me the most enjoyable aspects of the story were the two amazingly complex, yet subtly drawn, protagonists and the tender love story that develops between them.
With her characters, Hale never hits a false note. They can be infuriating as often as they are endearing, but these contradictions only make them seem, like everything else in the book, utterly real.
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And they're sexy, too. This is a wonderful novel. He is also a man with a brutal past and a dangerous addiction. And Belimai Sykes is the only man Captain William Harper can turn to when faced with a series of grisly murders. But Mr. From the ornate mansions of noblemen, where vivisection and sorcery are hidden beneath a veneer of gold, to the steaming slums of Hells Below, Captain Harper must fight for justice and for his life.
His enemies are many and his only ally is a devil he knows too well.
Wicked Gentlemen — Ginn Hale
Such are the dangers of dealing with the wicked. The black leather cut into the muscle of Brandson's legs.
Brandson winced. Harper stepped back and then kicked him forward onto his stomach. He hit the floor with a hard thud. Talbott," Brandson muttered against the floor. Just answer my questions.
Harper released his hair and Brandson's head dropped back down to the floor. Brandson squeezed his eyes shut and nodded his head against the floor in silent admission. He stared down at Brandson's pale face. I had to do it, Harper," Brandson whispered. It would have been a huge scandal. He was beating her, and she died trying to escape him. Anyone who bothered to look at her could have seen that. Brandson stared at Harper in silence for several moments.
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Harper didn't know what Brandson saw in his expression, but suddenly Brandson squeezed his eyes shut. Sweat poured down his forehead. Slowly, Harper released the hammer. Then he stood up and went to Lucy. She stared at the pistol in his hand, then glanced up at his face. Harper gave her a brief smile.
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She tried to return the smile, but she was too frightened to be convincing. The gag in her mouth made the expression grotesquely desperate. Harper sighed and strode quickly to the woman's shabby dressing table.
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He opened the drawer and dug through her underwear until he found another pair of silk stockings. There was a little pattern of L's decorating the seams. He took those as well as a pair of underwear and a cotton sock.