#248 Hawksmoor

I haven’t read anything by Peter Ackroyd before but I’ve been aware of him since I started the 1001 books – when I noticed his name was on the front as editor and a number of his works were included within (which I thought was a bit cheeky.. although I suppose he might not have nominated himself.. but whatever). At first I did consider returning it to the shelves when I read the blurb – after having read A Maggot so recently I didn’t know whether I was ready to handle another 18th century style novel (regardless of how much of it was 18th century based and it having been written in the 20th century) but decided against it (my justification for this is – sigh – I’ll have to read them all eventually.
While Hawksmoor does begin in full tilt 18th century manner (albeit slightly comically, like A Maggot) this doesn’t last long: the book’s chapters tumble quickly through the centuries – darting forward to the 20th century where the eponymous Nicholas Hawksmoor begins to investigate a string of murders across the churchyards of central London. The two periods are linked in that Nicolas Dyer, assistant to Christopher Wren, is designing and building the churches in the 18th century (and committing hideous sacrifices in each for his own satanic purposes) while in the present day the pattern of murders is being recreated by a seemingly untraceable murderer.
To be honest neither the narrative nor the string of murders grabbed my attention: I found the book slightly tedious to read and I’m slightly apprehensive about tackling the next Ackroyd one I pick up now. I found it quite heavy to wade through to find out what was actually helping and it probably didn’t help that Hawksmoor wasn’t a particularly engaging character (if anything, despite his narrative style, Nicolas Dyer was more interesting to read about). Hawksmoor himself seemed stuck in the past – to the point where I was surprised his deputy (not entirely sure of his rank) kept talking about computers and technology – Hawksmoor himself seems in a completely different era.


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