Broken Meats by David Hambling

Series: Harry Stubbs Adventures #2 Rating: 5/5
Date of Publishing: January 15th 2018 Genre: mystery, urban fantasy, horror
Format: Kindle Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Number of pages: 121 Author’s website: 

“As a fighter, if you don’t face up to your fears, you’re nothing. It’s that willingness to stand up and punch and be punched that makes you what you are. I could not let that be taken away from me. I am not nothing. I will not walk away from a fight.”

– Harry Stubbs

Blurb

Weird things lurk in the dark streets of London in 1925. 

After a bizarre shooting incident, Harry Stubbs, former heavyweight boxer and sometime debt collector, is coerced into helping a visitor from Shanghai. Mr Yang, an agent of the feared Si Fan Society with unusual powers, is seeking information about a dead man. 

Roslyn D’Onston was a journalist and black magician -- and a leading suspect in the Jack the Ripper killings. D’Onston has been dead for thirteen years. But exactly how dead is he now? 

When Yang joins a cell of renegade Theosophists for a séance, things start to go terribly wrong and Harry finds himself caught in a battle between occult powers, with strange enemies and stranger friends. It will take all his deductive skills – and talent for throwing a killer punch – to survive against the all-too-real arts of necromancy… 

Personal notes

First of all, thanks to Mr Hambling for providing me a copy in exchange of a honest review. You can find my thoughts on the first book here:

The Elder Ice by David Hambling

Secondly, let me dedicate one of my favorite quotes (highlited above) from this book to a friend of mine.

I am told that this series has Lovecraftian elements. Since I’ve never read Lovecraft’s works, these things are totally lost on me, so forgive me if I don’t mention them.

Review

The book picks up events right after it was left off in The Elder Ice: Harry needs a job, and Arthur happens to have one for him. Mr Yang arrives to London from Shangai in search of a mysterious man Roslyn D’Onston – journalist, occultist, traveller, possible suspect of Jack the Ripper murders and a person who really lived and walked on the streets of London. Harry, having no other choice, tags along as Yang’s guide and finds himself neck deep in occultism and a rather strange case. Since this is a pretty short book I can’t go any further into the plot without spoilers so let’s just say things get interesting pretty quickly.

I had issues with The Elder Ice, which I wrote up to my current state at the time. This time I had no such issues and could lose myself pretty easily in 1925’s London. Harry Stubbs is not your average MC with detective skills, or any special skills really, except some boxing knowledge which helps him to stay alive. Sometimes barely. But that’s what makes him feel like a real person, his averageness, his natural curiosity, his sharp wit he is not enterily conscious about and his ability to make people open up to him. It’s easy to identify with him and root for him.

Mr Yang and his cultural background was a nice addition which made this book more vivid. Probably your only complain will be that there weren’t more introduction to chinese customs and the superstitions Yang performed while walking around town with Harry in tow. However, the cutest scene ever belongs to a little girl, Chun Hua who tries to teach Harry how to use chopsticks. If that doesn’t melt your heart, then you don’t have one!

Broken Meats is a short, tightly written book. David Hambling really has the talent for bringing to life a vivid, action packed story with the right amount of descriptions for you to understand what’s going on and don’t feel like anything’s missing. And all this under 200 pages! He explains Theosophy and Palingenesis in a way that even those who never heard about these things – like yours truly – can easily understand. And believe me, if I understood, you will too. I always had a difficulty to understand philosophical stuff. Just look at my grades regarding those topics in my university years.

Anyway, Broken Meats combines fiction and history in a way that they complement each other and makes it seem like the most natural thing in the world. But then, Mr Yang already told us: “What you call fact and fiction are intertwined and cannot be separated. They support each other. They are ‘two sides of the same coin’, as you say in English”. You’d think occultism, chinese culture and their ‘secret’ societies and Jack the Ripper makes a unusual mix. They do. And still, it works and that’s what makes Broken Meats such an enjoyable read. Mr Hambling is not afraid to pull all these elements together and create something strange and unexpected. By the end you’ll wish it was longer and that you could read a stand alone novel based on Roslyn D’Onston with Hamblings’ unusual twist on his story. If you happen to have a few hours to kill, I would strongly recommend to check out the Harry Stubbs adventures!

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