#BookExcerpt – Oliver Twist and the Mystery of Throate Manor by David Stuart Davies @dstuartdavies @urbanebooks #lovebooksgrouptours
So I have the pleasure of bringing to you today the excerpt from the book Oliver Twist & The Mystery of Throate Manor by David Stuart Davies and he has even kindly written a few words for us too! It is a good one!! First, let us have a look at the cover and the synopsis. Check out the tour poster to follow the rest of the tour!
Publication Day: 14th June 2018
Publisher: Urbane Publications
Category: Fiction, Genre: Crime / Historical Thriller
A thrilling ‘Dickensian Whodunit’ in which Oliver Twist, now a young man and a lawyer, assisted by his clerk Jack Dawkins (the Artful Dodger) tries to solve a series of brutal murders.
Oliver Twist is a young man in his late twenties and employed as a solicitor. He has taken his old associate Jack Dawkins, aka the Artful Dodger, on as his clerk in attempt to civilise him and keep him out of trouble. Together they become embroiled in a dark and dangerous murder mystery.
Throate Manor is the ancestral home of the Throate Family in Surrey. The latest incumbent of the line, the aged Sir Ebenezer, trapped in a loveless marriage to Lady Amelia, is being terrified by a night visitor, a sheeted apparition who appears in his bedroom, and warns him to remember his son. This does not refer to his legitimate offspring Jeremiah Throate, a reckless gambler and libertine, who is deeply in debt to Eugene Trench, a sinister figure in the Victorian underworld. The son to whom the apparition refers is an illegitimate child Sir Ebenezer fathered with a maidservant some twenty-five years previously.
Fear mixed with guilt prompts Sir Ebenezer to try and locate the son he has never known.
He plans to alter his will to favour him. He contacts his solicitors, the firm of Gripewind and Biddle, for this purpose and they despatch Oliver Twist and Jack Dawkins to Throate Manor to attend to this business. Sir Ebenezer charges Oliver with the task of finding his lost son.
The task is a perilous one leading to violence and murder before shocking revelations threaten to destroy them all.
Bestselling crime author David Stuart Davies delivers a unique Victorian set mystery, reimagining some of Charles Dickens best loved characters in new and thrilling roles. Ideal for fans of Kim Newman, Mark Frost and the author’s acclaimed Luther Darke series.
David Stuart Davies reveals how the novel came to be written and what it’s all about.
About ten years ago I was asked to contribute a story to a collection of Dickensian whodunits. The idea was for a series of mystery stories featuring characters from the novels of Charles Dickens. I chose Oliver Twist and Jack Dawkins aka the Artful Dodger.
I presented Oliver as a young man who was now working as a lawyer in London. He encounters his old friend Jack Dawkins from his days with Fagin. Jack, still the raffish, likeable rogue, has got himself into another scrape. Oliver helps him out of it and decides to take Jack under his wing, to save him from himself and try to ‘civilise’ him. During the process, the pair become involved in a murder mystery which they solve.
The story, The Murder in Murray’s Court, was successful and I thought that the concept of Oliver and Jack as a detective duo had legs and they could feature in a novel-length story. However, it was only a couple of years ago that I eventually got round to writing it – and so now we have Oliver Twist & The Mystery of Throate Manor. It was great fun to write and although I did not attempt to replicate Dickens’ style, I have tried to imbue the narrative with a strong flavour of his kind of storytelling and I hope I’ve captured the spirit and essence of his style. It is a crime and mystery novel – but then so were a number of Dickens’ tales. I have been able to include moments of drama, horror and humour and people the narrative with a wide range of characters, some of them comic, some grotesque and some engaging. There are, for example, the decrepit warring aristocrats Sir Ebenezer and Lady Amelia Throat and their ne’er do well son Jeremiah. Then we have the darkest of villains in Eugene Trench and the horrific harridan Lady Wilhemina Whitestone and her charming companion, Felicity Waring. These and many more vibrant characters people the crowded stage of this mystery novel.
As Sir Ebenezer Throate nears the end of his life, he gives Oliver the task of finding his illegitimate child whom he had secretly fathered some twenty five years before. Now in old age, ridden with
guilt and prompted by a strange spectral nightly visitor, he seeks to make amends to the abandoned child. This task leads Oliver and Jack on a convoluted trail that leads them into danger…. I don’t want to say more as I’d like you to discover the many twists (no pun in intended) and turns of the story.
However, here is a flavour of the book: an extract from the early part of the novel where we first meet Oliver.
It is one of the great failings of human nature that we cannot escape from our Unpleasant Past.
It lies festering like some graveyard ghoul in those dark regions of the brain where our cheerful thoughts never care to wander for they have brisk, cheerful and uplifting business to be concerned about elsewhere. But our Unpleasant Past waits in the gloomy, craggy corners, in the slimy recesses, patiently humming some little discordant, self-satisfied tune while it bides its time until it is the moment to strike; the moment to remind us of how it was, how unpleasant, painful and demoralising it was. It only needs an image, a place, a word, a taste, a smell, a touch, a smile, a laugh, a blow or any of a thousand other trifles to prompt it into action. It only needs a very little thing.
Or, indeed, a dream.
For it is in dreams that the dark unconscious has full reign. In that sleeping time of night, our moral protectors are dormant, wrapped in their own comforting nightgowns and are at rest.
At this time, past midnight, when the stars are at their fiercest in the heavens, our Unpleasant Past leaves its secret place and rides forth, unhindered by any restraint, to feed our minds with
those bad memories.
Thus it was with Oliver Twist whose brain, during the daylight hours, is so full of business and love, optimism and anticipation, care and consideration, jollity and extravagance, enthusiasm and patience that the past, unpleasant though it was, and it was very unpleasant indeed, does not come to bother him. The shield of goodness which surrounds him is too strong for the darts of his Unpleasant Past. In the daytime, that is.
But at night, there is a different story to tell. The good Mr Twist, a young fellow of twenty eight years old, is placed on the rack of bad dreams and experiences again in the perspiring dark of his feverish bed the torments of his childhood. Out of the bedroom shadows come figures from his past, animated by imagination and fear, to taunt him. Here the fearful Bill Sikes is conjured up, apparently alive and just as vicious, his hand grasping for Oliver’s neck. Oliver can see him, hear him, can smell and almost touch him. And then comes the dangling form of the hanged Fagin, dancing in sprightly fashion on the gallows as though he were part of a music hall troupe, his bright avaricious eyes, wide open and shining like two puddles caught in the moonlight.
On the occasions of these nocturnal visions, Oliver Twist would rise from his bed, drenched in perspiration, weak with fatigue and fearful to return to the uncharted regions of sleep in case the nightmare demons finally had their way with him. Thankfully such occasions are not frequent, but when they come they have a dual effect. They make him gloriously thankful to the Lord for the influence, beneficence and love of the recently deceased Mr Brownlow who rescued him from the dark world of Fagin and Bill Sikes; but they also rob him of energy and brightness of mind for a day or two, after which the memory of the night fears fades… until the next time Oliver woke one morning bright and early, and despite emerging from a peaceful and dreamless slumber into that strange limbo state where sleep is retreating over one border while consciousness is forging ahead over the other, old apprehensions still disturbed the young fellow. As his eyes attempted to focus on the dark dressing gown hanging behind the door, in the half-light of the bedroom it seemed to manifest itself into the old sinner himself. The garment appeared to shimmer with movement and Oliver expected Fagin’s gaunt, greedy face to loom out from the folds of the dressing gown collar, grinning maliciously. He blinked hard and the illusion disappeared as illusions do. And in its place was a mundane dressing gown. Oliver’s own innate mental strength allowed him, rather like the proverbial duck and water, to shake off these moments quickly without any ill effect. To dwell on them, he knew, would lead him down dark and dangerous pathways.
As his sharp razor smoothed his chin some five minutes later, Oliver had forgotten the sinister image of the dressing gown and was considering the prospect of breakfast, which he knew would be waiting for him when he made his way downstairs. The face that stared back at him in the shaving mirror was an attractive one with its firm set jaw, pale blue eyes and feathery blond hair. It was only his slightly crooked nose, a trifle too large for his slim features that robbed him of the appellation of ‘handsome’. Although it has to be said that certain ladies considered this prominent feature the most pleasing aspect of his appearance. His ablutions completed and dressed for the day, he descended to the dining room. Despite being a rising young lawyer in the firm of Gripwind and Biddle and secure in the comfortable inheritance left to him by his beloved benefactor, Mr Brownlow, Oliver did not engage an army of servants to rally to his beck and call. He was not only conscious of his penurious past but his natural modesty forbade such pampering notions.
If you enjoyed my post or any of my other posts, please share it on Twitter, Facebook, anywhere for other people to enjoy. Thanks for stopping by! ♥