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July 23, 2013 / minusbar

Book Review: Doktor Glass, by Thomas Brennan

Book Review: “Doktor Glass” by Thomas Brennan

Doktor Glass is a steampunk mystery written by Thomas Brennan. Not familiar with the steampunk genre? No worries, it’s very easy to understand: Antiquated setting, advanced technology. Personally, I haven’t read very many books in this genre. This particular book, however, was a lucky find.


In an age of Zeppelins and gyroplanes, atomics and horseless carriages, the Transatlantic Span is the industrial marvel of the nineteenth century. A monumental feat of engineering, the steel suspension bridge stretches across the Atlantic from Liverpool to the distant harbor of New York City, supported by no less than seven hundred towers. But in the shadows of its massive struts, on the docks of the River Mersey, lies a faceless corpse…

Inspector Matthew Langton is still seized with grief when he thinks of Sarah, his late wife. Tortured by nightmares and afflicted by breathless attacks of despair and terror, he forces himself to focus on the investigation of the faceless man. The victim wears the uniform of the Transatlantic Span Company but bears the tattoos of the Boers—could there be a Boer conspiracy to assassinate Queen Victoria on the upcoming Inauguration Day of the Span?

But the truth, as it begins to emerge, is far more bizarre than a political coup. As additional victims turn up—each with strange, twin burn marks on their necks—Langton draws a connection between the dead man beneath the bridge and chilling rumors of the Jar Bars, soul snatchers who come under cover of night. Most frightening of all is the mythic and elusive Doktor Glass, who may not only be behind the illicit trade in souls…but who may hold the key to what happened to the inspector’s own beloved wife on her deathbed…

In this case, the setting is Victorian London, complete with heavy fog and despicable deeds. It’s effective because amid the excitement over new technology and the Span (the bridge stretching from England to America), there is an underlying tension that plays the old ideas and beliefs against the new ones.

I liked the protagonist, Matthew Langton, right away. THe story is told solely from his perspective. He is a hardworking and determined man who is trying to deal with his wife’s recent death in any way he can. At the beginning of the book he is given a new case and decides to distract himself with that. He eventually has to come to terms with his grief to complete the case.

Doktor Glass raises many questions about morality and obsession. It brings up the questions we have been asking for a very long time, such as: How far can we go before it’s too far? The fascinating blend of old and new, well written and intriguing, makes for a gripping mystery.

Oh, and did I mention gripping? Seriously, it was. I finished the book in record time. I would strongly recommend this book if you are looking for a thought-provoking and thrilling read.

I picked my copy up at Barnes and Noble, but you can find it here!


A Daily Dose of R&R


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