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Mr. Timothy Cratchit, his father recently buried, embarks on the next phase of his life intent on two things: to rid himself of his image as a pitied cripple and to escape the financial shackles of his benevolent "Uncle" Ebenezer by vanishing into the thick of London's teeming underbelly. Plunging into the rolling brown fog of 1860's London, through filthy back alleys and boarding houses, Tim succeeds--or so he thinks--in sidestepping his past. But fate deals him a cruel blow when he discovers the bodies of two dead girls, each seared with the same cruel brand on the upper arm. Unable to forget their horror-stricken death masks and spurred on by a street-smart, homeless boy who calls himself Colin the Melodious, Timothy finds himself on the trail of something far worse--and far more dangerous--than an ordinary killer.
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Tiny Tim is back! No, not the squeaky-voiced troubadour who tip-toed through tulips in the 1960s, but the original--Timothy Cratchit, the crutch-wielding tyke from Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. Only now he's a "mostly able-bodied" 23 years old, resides in a London whorehouse in exchange for tutoring the madam, struggles to wean himself from financial dependence on his ancient "Uncle" Ebenezer Scrooge, and, as we learn in Louis Bayard's darkly enchanting historical thriller, Mr. Timothy, is haunted by the spirit of his late father--a man whose optimism and strength the son feels himself incapable of imitating.
When we first encounter Timothy, during the Christmas season of 1860, he's vexed by the discovery of two dead 10-year-old girls, each branded with the letter "G"--one found in an alley, the other fished from the Thames River by Cratchit and a voluble old salt who makes his money by finding (and then robbing, of course) errant corpses. Timothy's concern leads him to protect a third possessively marked waif, the frightened and suspicious Philomela--who, he soon realizes, is being sought by a knife-loving former Scotland Yard inspector and a moneyed, malevolent voluptuary. When, despite precautions, Philomela is kidnapped by her pursuers, Cratchit--assisted by a shrewd warbling urchin known as Colin the Melodious--resolves to fulfill his "great calling" in life by mounting a rescue. However, this mission will force the habitually uncourageous Timothy to not only defend himself against sexual molestation charges, storm a well-guarded mansion, and solve the puzzle of a coffin-filled basement, but also engage in a nightmarish final chase along London's docklands.
Authors employing real-life characters as detectives are often hampered by their adherence to historical fact. Bayard suffers no such limitations in imagining what fates awaited Dickens's now-famous fictional figures. Under his pen, Scrooge--whose rooms are decorated for Christmas year-round--becomes an eccentric collector of fungi and host to an interminable stream of charity solicitors, while Timothy Cratchit strikes out beyond his lonely young man status to become the head of an unconventional clan. Bayard's appreciation for the lurid exoticness of Victorian London rivals that of John MacLachlan Gray (The Fiend in Human), while his lyrical prose subtly suggests 19th-century influences. Mr. Timothy is at once a compelling Christmas crime yarn and an audacious literary endeavor. No humbug there. --J. Kingston PierceAbout the Author:
Louis Bayard is a critically acclaimed novelist, reviewer, and journalist who has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Salon.com, Ms., Nerve.com, and the Washington, D.C., City Paper. He is the author of The Pale Blue Eye and of Mr. Timothy, a New York Times Notable Book and one of People magazine's ten best books of 2003. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his partner and two sons.
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Book Description Sound Library, 2003. Audio CD. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110792731069