The Great Stink

The Great Stink

3.5 (1,177 ratings by Goodreads)
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William May returns to London after the horrors of the Crimean War. Scarred and fragile though he is, he lands a job at the heart of Bazalgette's transformation of the London sewers. There, in the darkness of the stinking tunnels beneath the rising towers of Victorian London, May discovers another side of the city and remembers a disturbing, violent past. And then the corruption of the growing city soon begins to overwhelm him and a violent murder is committed. Will the sewers reveal all and show that the world above ground is even darker and more threatening than the tunnels beneath? Beautifully written, evocative and compelling, with a fantastically vivid cast of characters, Clare Clarke's first book is a rich and suspenseful novel that draws the reader right into Victorian London and into the worlds of its characters desperately attempting to swim the tides of change.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 130 x 198 x 32mm | 339.99g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 014101833X
  • 9780141018331
  • 426,462

About Clare Clark

Clare Clark was born in London in 1967. A Senior Scholar at Trinity College, Cambridge, she graduated with a Double First in History. The Great Stink is her first novel. She is married with two children and lives in London.
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Review quote

PRAISE FOR"THE GREAT STINK""Clark's triumph is that she makes us see and smell everything we politely pretend not to, and she even manages to give the miasma its own kind of beauty . . . The book is literally breathtaking."--"The New York Times Book Review"""The Great Stink"is a trove of olfactory poetry . . . a crackerjack historical novel that combines the creepy intrigue of Caleb Carr, the sensory overload of Peter Ackroyd and the academic curiosity of A. S. Byatt."--"Los Angeles Times"
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Rating details

1,177 ratings
3.5 out of 5 stars
5 16% (191)
4 36% (426)
3 33% (391)
2 10% (119)
1 4% (50)

Our customer reviews

I really enjoyed this book set in the sewers of Victorian England. William May is a damaged man, wounded in the Crimean war and suffering from Shell Shock he is driven to the brink of insanity and manages to bring himself back from it, but only just. He comes home and obtains a job with the department of Sewers. His job is to survey the sewers under Londons' metropolis and this he does diligently, but he also uses the tunnels to "cut" himself to help him cope with life. Another character is Long Arm Tom a man who makes his living from the sewers collecting rats for the dogs to kill in the "fancy", and anything else of value along the way. These two characters are inter- twined within the story and come together when a murder is commited and William is arrested for it. He is very fragile and has terrible nightmares about the war leaving him a wreck of a man, he is thrown into an asylum with his ramblings. From there he has to clear his name and save his sanity, his marriage and his life.. Here enters Sydney Rose, a quite unassuming young lawyer who tries to do just that, although a timid man having to deal with London's low life. The book is atmospheric and quite captavating in the sense that you want to see how it pans out. Maybe not everyones cup of tea! but I enjoyed it!show more
by Penny Cunningham
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