Monday, 27 July 2020

Resurrection Men by David Craig

Resurrection Men by David Craig
Published in the UK by Elsewhen Press in 2018.

Glasgow 1893.

Wilton Hunt, a student, and Tam Foley, a laudanum-addicted pharmacist, are pursuing extra-curricular careers as body snatchers, or ‘resurrection men’, under cover of darkness. They exhume a girl’s corpse, only for it to disappear while their backs are turned. Confused and in need of the money the body would have earnt them, they investigate the corpse’s disappearance. They discover that bodies have started to turn up in the area with ripped-out throats and severe loss of blood, although not the one they lost. The police are being encouraged by powerful people to look the other way, and the deaths are going unreported by the press. As Hunt and Foley delve beneath the veneer of respectable society, they find themselves entangled in a dangerous underworld that is protected from scrutiny by the rich and powerful members of the elite but secretive Sooty Feathers Club.

Meanwhile, a mysterious circus arrives in the middle of the night, summoned to help avenge a betrayal two centuries old...

I finished reading Resurrection Men earlier today and am struggling to think how to review this rich historical novel without giving away too much to anyone who has not yet read it! It's set in a suitably gothic late-1800s Glasgow and I thought Craig used the city settings brilliantly to add atmospheric depth to his novel. We move from grim, impoverished street dwellers to luxurious private clubs, and meet people from all echelons of society along the way. At times there were so many minor characters involved in a scene that I couldn't always keep their back stories and allegiances clear in my mind, however the male leads - Hunt and Foley - are nicely defined with differences that complement each other well. I enjoyed their sporadic squabbling too.

The narrative is surprisingly complex for a debut and I appreciated that it reads as a fully realised novel, not just the first-of-a-series. I wasn't left with the sense that Craig was leaving gaps to be explored in future books and we get a properly satisfying conclusion too. The unfolding mystery kept my attention and I loved how the fantasy-horror elements were plausibly interwoven. I was always convinced by Craig's world-building, even when events start getting very weird, and there's several wonderfully unique twists on standard lore. I was initially tempted to read Resurrection Men for its historic Scottish setting above anything else, however now find myself having added its sequel to my TBR more on the strengths of the dark fantasy elements. I think Craig is turning me into a v****** novel fan!

Meet the author 

Aside from three months living on an oil tanker sailing back and forth between America and Africa, and two years living in a pub, David Craig grew up on the west coast of Scotland.
He studied Software Engineering at university, but lost interest in the subject after (and admittedly prior to) graduation. He currently works as a strategic workforce planning analyst for a public service contact centre, and lives near Glasgow with his wife, daughter and two rabbits.
Being a published writer had been a life-long dream, and one that he was delighted to finally realise with his debut novel, Resurrection Men, the first in the Sooty Feathers series, published by Elsewhen Press in 2018. Thorns of a Black Rose was David’s second novel, also published by Elsewhen Press.
He returns to the Sooty Feathers series with Lord of the Hunt.

Author links: 
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