Skip to main content

Review: Mister Slaughter, by Robert McCammon

Pages: 440
Original date of publication: 2010
My edition: 2010 (Subterranean Press)
Why I decided to read: read the first two books in the series back in 2007
How I acquired my copy: review copy from the publisher, February 2010

Mister Slaughter is the first book in a series that began with Speaks the Nightbird and continued with The Queen of Bedlam. Mister Slaughter is sort of a continuation of The Queen of Bedlam (I certainly recommend reading that book first, since this book references some of the events and people of the first. Speaks the Nightbird is more of a stand-alone novel). Here, Matthew Corbett (a “problem solver” for the Herrald Agency in New York) and his associate, Hudson Greathouse, are charged with the task of transporting a murderer named Tyranthus Slaughter from an insane asylum to New York, where he will be sent back to England to await trial—and, inevitably, the hangman’s noose. But this being a Matthew Corbett novel, things don’t go quite as planned, and Matthew and Greathouse find themselves hunting Slaughter through the woods of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Their search eventually brings them to the attention of Professor Fell, who was a major part of The Queen of Bedlam.

This is a very strong addition to the series, all the more so because Matthew’s character develops significantly in this novel. He suffers from the sins of vanity, greed, and pride (which often go hand in hand), and part of his development in this book involves his learning to be more humble and willing to admit that he’s made mistakes—and he makes one or two here. He’s young, too, which leaves a lot of room for development over the course of more books. Hudson Greathouse takes a backseat (since he gets injured about halfway through), but the book is complimented by the introduction of a few new associates, including a Seneca tracker who’s considered mad by his tribe mates; and a teenage boy intent on revenge. Slaughter is a delightful (if a mass murderer can be called that) villain, who manages to make people trust him, even while the reader thinks, “no! Don’t trust him!”

The plot too is very good, with the right amount of tension. Robert McCammon is a little less skilled at the historical parts (retirement communities in 1702?), but I thought the book was well-researched nonetheless. In addition, at times, the characters seemed a bit too modern (at one point, one of the characters exclaims, “I’ll blow the shit out of him!”). Robert McCammon is famous for his earlier horror novels, and there’s certainly a fair amount of that kind of gruesomeness here (I’m not going to say anything, but remember what happened to Frank Bennett in Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Café… totally different book, I know…). Despite the books minor flaws, I really enjoyed this book. You can definitely see the inspiration of the great heroes of the 1950s and ‘60s (James Bond, in particular; there’s a ship named the Golden Eye, plus an inventor whose last name begins with Q). And indeed, there’s a lot of action and adventure in this novel. I can’t wait to read what’s next for Matthew Corbett and his associates.


Unknown said…
I am very much enjoying the McCammon, Matthew Corbett, series and as I've said in other post, I read the three almost back to back and am exhausted so am hoping it's at least a year before the next one comes out so I can get some rest.
Though I am not at all familiar with that period in history, I learned a lot but I did find a few things that threw me out for a second in the wording that I felt was not always in keeping with the rest of the work.
I'm also a fan of the Deadwood series which kept me in the time period so authentically that I could smell the place and the people.
The world of Matthew Corbett series very vividly and aromatically put me in the country side and houses of this period in history which made me even more grateful for my hot showers!
Mr. McCammon did post a note at the end of Mr. Slaughter which also needs to be read--maybe even before you read the book.
To anyone who has not read these works, I'd suggest that you read them all in order. Sings The Nightbird is my favorite so far.

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is an old dotard, her third locks her up in the house for days and won't let her out; and the last is a fop who a…

Review: This Rough Magic, by Mary Stewart

Pages: 254Original date of publication: 1964My edition: 1964 (William Morrow)Why I decided to read: it was 90 degrees outside at the time and I decided it was time to read another book by a favorite authorHow I acquired my copy: from Susanna Kearsley, December 2009Sometimes, whether or not I decide to read a book depends on the weather. Mary Stewart’s books are best read on either very hot or very cold days; and since it was 90 degrees out one weekend a couple of weeks ago, I decided that this one would be perfect. And it was.This Rough Magic takes its title from The Tempest, a play from which this novel takes off. Lucy Waring is a struggling actress who comes to visit her sister on Corfu. One of her neighbors is a renowned actor who’s taken a bit of a sabbatical and his son, a musician with whom Lucy comes to blows at first. This Rough Magic is vintage Mary Stewart, with a murder or two, a mystery, romance, suspense, and lots of magic thrown in. Lucy is your typical Mary Stewart hero…

Review: Joy in the Morning, by Betty Smith

Pages: 294
Original date of publication: 1963
My edition: 2010 (Harper Perennial)
Why I decided to read:
How I acquired my copy: Barnes and Noble, Phoenix, January 2011

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of my all-time favorite books and I’ve read it, oh, half a dozen times, so I was interested to see how Joy in the Morning would compare.

Set in the late 1920s, Joy in the Morning begins when Annie, aged 18, comes to a small Midwestern college town where her fiancée, Carl, is in law school. The novel opens with their marriage in the county courthouse, and follows the couple through their first year or so of marriage. It’s a struggle, because Carl and Annie are basically children themselves, for all the ways in which Carl tries to appear more adult-like.

Annie is endearing; she’s ignorant but a voracious reader, reading everything from Babbitt to War and Peace. Betty Smith’s novels are pretty autobiographical; Joy in the Morning is (unofficially) a kind of sequel to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn—cert…