The Great Stink by Clare Clark

About the book

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.

Reviewed by Fleet U3A reading group:

The description of the Victorian sewers was very evocative and you could imagine the smell in your own nostrils. Too much build-up, with the ending rather rushed. Book would have benefitted from more editing. The relationship between Tom and his dog, Lady, very well written. Rose was another interesting character but there was too little of him. A good debut novel though.

Star rating: ***

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2 thoughts on “The Great Stink by Clare Clark”

  1. Review by Elderberries Reading Group:
    A story written to show the life in Victorian times for the poor and those without influence, and the building of London’s sewers. Not a story for the squeamish as the background details are given fully.
    Star rating: **

  2. Review by Kings Somborne Reading Group:
    Atmospheric, Stygian, gripping, over-long, needed editing. Superb evocation of the dirt, dark and squalor of the period. But some members of the group felt that it needed editing and a tighter plot – some characters (e.g. the lawyer Rose) were wonderfully Dickensian but were too fleeting and disappeared unexpectedly. Touching description of relationship between Tom and Lady. Impressive debut novel.
    Star rating: ***

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