Anita Dow

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Smashwords book reviews by Anita Dow

  • Gooseberry on July 15, 2019

    I thoroughly enjoyed this first book in the 'Send For Octavius Guy' series. The main character, Octavius, is an engaging 14 year old ex-pickpocket turned solicitor's investigator. His former life in the Victorian underworld provides a rich background of potential storylines and characters. I found his unusual family set up endearing and completely believable; clearly the author has researched the lives of a broad spectrum of people living in 1850's Victorian London. The twists and turns of the plot kept me guessing and I greatly appreciated the subtle, humorous asides. Author Michael Gallagher has used some of the characters from Wilkie Collins' 'The Moonstone' and created a believable and 'cosy' mystery. I was unfamiliar with 'The Moonstone' so I found an online summary in order to understand more about the Octavius Guy character but it's not necessary to know Collins' story to appreciate and enjoy this well crafted story. The descriptions and characterisations are very visual and beautifully done. This is a wonderful, wholesome and satisfying read and I am already enjoying book two, with book 3 lined up and ready to start. What better indication of a 'must read' series is there?
  • Octopus on July 22, 2019

    This sparkling sequel does not disappoint! I read this second book in the 'Send For Octavius Guy' series immediately after finishing book one and was hooked from the first chapter. The 'case' for our young investigator is darker and more complex this time, reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes, with twists and turns that sometimes rival Agatha Christie. What I enjoyed most though, was Octavius' personal story deftly woven through the narrative along with the author's trademark gentle, witty asides. Details of home life and living conditions, jobs, food, transport, entertainment, and even the criminal justice system, are included in such an integral part of the storytelling that you really feel you are there in 1850's Victorian London. The characters have been further developed so well that I could easily visualise them on a Sunday night, in a prime-time, family viewing TV slot. I was reluctant to put this book down, and the climax and tying up of loose ends was thoroughly satisfying and superbly done. No withdrawal symptoms for me as book 3 is lined up and ready to read! Can't wait to start 'Big Bona Ogles, Boy!'
  • Big Bona Ogles, Boy! on Aug. 05, 2019

    This series just gets better and better and I just can't get enough of teenage investigator Octavius Guy! The sub plot of his own personal story and the development of the cast of characters had me totally engrossed and entertained. I love the way Michael Gallagher writes, with his witty asides and gentle humour. The characters are totally believable and superbly drawn. The era is thoroughly researched and I always learn something new about the lives and times of different classes living and working in London in the 1850s. This is an absolute gem of a series and quite the most enjoyable set of books I have read in a very long time. So much so that, while I await book 4, I am now going to try the author's other series "The Involuntary Medium"
  • The Bridge of Dead Things on Aug. 19, 2019

    This is the second series by Michael Gallagher that I have begun reading. I was slightly concerned that it would not measure up to the 'Send For Octavius Guy' 3 book series that I read in quick succession and adored. I was not at all disappointed in 'The Bridge Of Dead Things' - the first in 'The Involuntary Medium' series. Don't be put off by the title - it is cleverly explained in the unusual and entertaining plot. Michael Gallagher does a brilliant job as the voice of the somewhat reluctant teenage medium Lizzie Blaylock who finds herself pulled into the growing Victorian fascination for seances and the paranormal. A memorable cast of characters had me hooked early on and I will definitely want to read the second book. If you like a cosy mystery with a historical setting I'm sure you will enjoy this absorbing story with a neat ending.
  • The Scarab Heart on Sep. 09, 2019

    The Scarab Heart is book 2 in 'The Involuntary Medium' series and for me, in the writing, characters and plot, it manages to surpass the first book. Teenage medium Lizzie Blaylock accompanies her mentor Miss Otis. on a trip down the River Nile to an archaeological dig. The mysterious goings on and the cast of brilliantly drawn characters with interesting agendas is beautifully written and reminiscent of Agatha Christie. But the clever part is the way author Michael Gallagher weaves in the sub-plot - the story of a real ancient Egyptian princess and her powerful relations. He has not skimped on his research and I learned a great deal about Egyptian life and death and Victorian methods of archaeological excavation. The writing flows effortlessly and the climax and conclusion of this terrific story is surprising and memorable. Michael Gallagher is a gifted and skilled writer and I never would have thought that the adventures of a Victorian teenage girl, written by a middle aged Londoner could be so compelling. Sadly, I have no more books by this author left to read but I will be waiting eagerly for his next offering. If you enjoy historical mysteries, Michael Gallagher should definitely be on your list.
  • Oh, No, Octavius! on Jan. 14, 2020

    This series just gets better and I thoroughly enjoyed this latest story. Here in book four, teenage investigator Octavius Guy and his sidekick George, go undercover and get to mingle with the well heeled residents of Highbury, back then just a village beyond London. The plot is based on an actual person and real event, and the lads are engaged by a group of neighbours who want to find some reason to remove their clergyman from his post. When the Reverend is found conveniently dead, there are plenty of potential culprits and red herrings for Octavius and George to grapple with, aided by “Guys Dictionary of Detection for Budding Detectives”. As the pair gain more experience at investigating crime, so their working relationship has become more believable and there are some very amusing exchanges between them. The cast of characters is brilliantly drawn and the 1850s Victorian London setting is, as always, impeccably researched by the author. Some of the regular characters make an appearance too, and this fourth in the series beautifully demonstrates Gallagher's witty and very readable writing style. There is a clever nod to a famous author of the era towards the end of the story (and I was pleased that I correctly guessed his identity). At the back of the book Gallagher provides some interesting insights about the real clergyman on which the plot is based. This whole series would make a wonderful TV mystery drama for family prime time entertainment. If you like Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes, you will definitely enjoy this book and I wholeheartedly recommend it.