The Lazarus Gate by Mark Latham

Captain John Hardwick fought for King and Country in a dozen different countries. Captured and held in Burma, his release is unexpected as is the subsequent recruitment by a mysterious gentlemen’s club. The club battles the forces of the supernatural that pose a threat not only to England but to the world as well and Hardwick is their newest member.

Dangerous explosions have rocked the city of London, the perpetrators seeming to disappear as quickly as they appear. Some believe the bombings to be random, others attribute them to less than savory groups run amok; yet others believe the truth to be far different. And far more dangerous.

I have always enjoyed books set in the Victorian age, whether they are factual or fantasy based. I can pretty much guarantee that if the book says it’s set in the Victorian age, I will give it a read. The Lazarus Gate was no exception. I had heard of the author Mark Latham before but had never read one of his books before, until now. And once again I was pleasantly pleased with what I found.

We are introduced to Captain Hardwick just as he is being released from his Burma prison. When he returns to London, things seem almost too perfect as he is immediately able to find lodgings and even a job. Captain Hardwick questions his good luck almost immediately and it is this ceaseless questioning that serves him as he is assigned to the most recent spate of bombings. Many of his peers in the club take the events at face value but Hardwick believes there is something more. Something beneath the surface and he finds he is not far from the truth.

Too many details will of course give the ending away, and that would spoil all the fun. Mr. Latham does an excellent job of leading the reader down one lane of thinking, making them believe they know the who and the how of what happens next, only to have the truth be something quite different. Several times I thought I knew how the scene would play out only to be surprised.

Lush descriptions of the city and surrounding countryside truly bring the setting of the story to life. The prose is evocative of novels from the Victorian era itself, being both gritty and fanciful. I found the beginning a little slow but once the action really started I found it difficult to put the book down.

While this is the first book in a series, it easily can stand on its own as a single novel. The ending is done in a way that even if the reader does not pick up the second book they are not left feeling at loose ends. Plot threads are tied up neatly enough but little pieces are left for a second or third book to explore.

Fast paced and nicely written, I enjoyed The Lazarus Gate. Fans of sci-fi and fantasy type genres will want to give this one a read.


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