The second in the Burton and Swinburne adventures, this is the sequel to the debut novel, [b:The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack|7293120|The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack (Burton & Swinburne, #1)|Mark Hodder|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1327931939s/7293120.jpg|8590363]
, which introduced us to the adventures of Richard Burton and Algernon Swinburne. Again, [a:Hodder|3222611|Mark Hodder|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1315597718p2/3222611.jpg] drapes his story over actual historical events – using them as the basis for his story, but never being afraid to let the story trample all over the historical accuracy. His trick for this is based in the events of The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack
– the Albertian London of Burton and Swinburne has diverged from our ideas of Victorian London as a direct result of Spring-Heeled Jack's attempts to correct (as he saw it) history.
This time, The King's Agent is tasked to investigate the Tichborne Affair. Roger Tichborne, presumed dead, is returned to claim his inheritance. Except for the fact that he looks nothing like the real Roger Tichborne. That he's a patsy is obvious to Richard Burton. What's strange is that so many people are fooled – including Swinburne. Who's controlling the claimant and why is this leading to class warfare on the streets of London. The same supporting cast is here: Lord Palmerston, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Florence Nightingale and Oscar Wilde. But add in Babbage, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's father and Mary Beeton.
The book feels a little slow to begin. The first few chapters seem to pick up the story from the previous novel and then stop it only to start a brand new story. But, over time the threads come together and the second story makes sense. Even the clockwork man of the title, is tied in at the end. Increasingly, in this novel, you start to feel that there's a larger arc that Hodder's working towards: my suspicion is that it's the great war between the Technologists working with Britain and the Eugenicists working with Germany.